BA English Language and English Literature / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Societal Multilingualism

Course unit fact file
Unit code LELA20101
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The unit introduces students to methods of studying language diversity in urban communities and its impact on public services, communities and civic identity. Using Manchester as a case study, the focus is on the changes brought about through the complexity of migration patterns, mobility and technology, the concepts of ‘super-diversity’ and ‘trans-nationalism’. We examine the city’s linguistic and cultural mosaic, the role of language in access to public services and responses of public services to language diversity, the role of language in marketing and the commercial sector, what we can learn from the city’s linguistic landscapes, and what tools can be used to support the planning of language provisions. Students will work in groups on their own projects, with support from the course convenor. This course is a prerequisite for LELA30291 Language Contact. 


  • To acquire first-hand experience in community-based fieldwork in small research groups, including drafting a fieldwork plan, ethical considerations, data collection methods and data assessment
  • To gain familiarity with key concepts from the literature on multilingualism and to apply those in an original essay on new data
  • To make an original contribution to data collection and data interpretation on multilingual practices in Manchester, and to give public dissemination to these original research results
  • To be able to make direct use of this coursework experience for future career development


Draft syllabus; the order and coverage of topics might change.

Week 1: Multilingualism: Basic concepts

Week 2: Individual & Societal Multilingualism

Week 3: Urban multilingualism: Manchester

Week 4: African Urban Youth Languages

Week 5: Diversity & superdiversity

Week 6: Code-switching

Week 7: Language policy

Week 8: Language endangerment, death and revitalisation

Week 9: Language and social inequalities

Weeks 10 to 11: Open consultations on fieldwork project

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly session comprising a lecture component and an interactive research supervision component

Research guidance and feedback during weekly sessions and consultation hours · Feedback on written assignment

Through Blackboard: Course materials, assignment guidelines, web links to selected course reading and other relevant resources.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Familiarity with theories and methods of analysis of multilingual societies, with special emphasis on the sociology of language and principles of language policy in contact situations
  • Familiarity with a number of case-studies of language management in multilingual societies, and with current discussions of language vitality
  • First-hand observation and experience in data collection and analysis on urban multilingualism in Greater Manchester  

Intellectual skills

  • Write up and disseminate original findings in the form of a research report
  • Prioritise data and observations for evaluation and dissemination

Practical skills

  • Coordinate tasks in a research team
  • Collection and written assessment of fieldwork data
  • Conducting research based on secondary and published sources
  • Academic writing and referencing

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Compiling a written report
  • Organisation of practical research
  • Group work
  • Conducting interviews
  • Interacting with diverse community and municipal institutions

Employability skills

The projects offer opportunities for practical research work in the local community, and a unique opportunity to disseminate the insights that you will acquire to wide external audiences, in particular in local communities, key service providers and local government.
Project management
Such skills and experience are high in demand in a variety of sectors, including education, health, planning, and more; and as commerce becomes ever more globalised, there is increased demand and appreciation of awareness of ways to harness cultural knowledge for the benefit of growth and development.
The suggested project and coursework topics are all of direct relevance to the area of `diversity management' gaining an awareness of population diversity, developing tools to assess the needs and interests of diverse communities, and developing strategies to respond to those needs and to evaluate existing provisions.

Assessment methods

Assessment Task

Formative or Summative


Fieldwork plan and literature review (groups of 3-5)

Formative and Summative


Fieldwork report and conclusions (groups of 3-5)




Feedback methods

 Feedback method

 Formative or Summative

 Written comments on Turnitin submission


 Oral comments on research during seminars



Recommended reading

Baldauf, Richard B. Jr. 2006. Rearticulating the case for micro language planning in a Language ecology context. Current Issues in Language Planning 7:2-3, 147-170.

Blommaert, J. 2013. Ethnography, superdiversity and linguistic landscapes. Chronicles of complexity. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Extra, G. and Yagmur, K. 2011. Urban multilingualism in Europe: Mapping linguistic diversity in multicultural cities. Journal of Pragmatics 43, 1173–1184.

Matras, .Y & Robertson, A. 2015. Multilingualism in a post-industrial city: policy and practice in Manchester. Current Issues in Language Planning 16:3, 296-314.

Pennycook, A. & Otsuji, E. 2015. Metrolingualism. Language in the city. London: Routledge.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Serge Sagna Unit coordinator

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