English is an important global lingua franca, spoken by an estimated 1.5 billion people as a first, second or foreign language and used by three times as many non-native speakers as native speakers. Linguists are confident that the future of English will be determined by its non-native users outside the borders of traditionally English-speaking countries. A truly global language, adapting to new global contexts, English is currently undergoing great flux. There has never been a more exciting time to study the English language.

          A&H 126: Introduction to English Linguistics has two broad goals: (1) to introduce students to basic concepts, tools, issues and debates relevant to the study of linguistics (generally) today; and (2) to teach students how these apply to the English language specifically. Goals (1) and (2) are reached together, by using the English language as a case study through which many of the most relevant introductory concepts in linguistics are explored. In this way this course both prepares students to advance in their study of linguistics generally whilst simultaneously deepening understanding of the structure and function(s) of English. As the authors of the course textbook state: “[I]t is impossible to study the English language without also doing linguistics.”


Topics which will be covered in A&H 126 include:

·       Foundational issues (What is linguistics? Why study English linguistics? How can a study of the English language contribute to our knowledge of linguistics more generally?)

·       the structure of English (e.g. phonetics, morphology, grammar, semantics, pragmatics)

·       the history of English (where does English come from? What is its relation to other languages? How has it changed through the centuries? What factors contributed to these changes?)

·       English speech: regional and social variation in English (accent and dialects); English in the UK; English in America and other contexts

·       English writing: style, genre and practice (e.g. how is language used in newspapers? in advertisements? in literary texts?)

·       English communication and interaction (language and power; language and gender; language and politics; business communication; “bad” language, etc.)

·       Teaching and learning English (TESOL; first-/second- language acquisition, etc.)


Class sessions are interactive, involving group work and in-class discussion. Students will be expected to complete readings in advance and respond to questions on the reading. Class time will be devoted to review, discussion, group work, and practical activities. A detailed description of the course contents is given in the weekly overview below.

          This course also includes a skills component. Through a series of carefully planned step-by-step assignments which will culminate in a final term paper, students will develop key skills in research and writing, thus preparing themselves for more advanced undergraduate research at the 200-level.