Language and society

Introduction to Language and Society

This course provides a basic user-friendly introduction to the study of language and the relationship between language and society. Since the course targets people who have no prior knowledge of the subject, it presents information in short units, introducing the major concepts in language study – the analysis of language use on different levels. To increase student engagement with the teaching materials, the course also includes practical activities involving data analysis and interpretation.

Main topics:

  • Introduction: Language as an object of scientific study and the social functions of language.
  • Key areas in sociolinguistics
  • Discourse analysis and Conversation Analysis
  • Language and culture
  • Language policy and planning


Key question:

  • How does the speaker’s social role affect language use?
  • How does culture influence linguistic behaviour?
  • What is the relation between language and ideology?
  • Do multilinguals have any benefits?
  • How are we affected by language policies and how can we affect them ourselves?


Learning outcomes / competences:

  • Define the most basic linguistic terms
  • Explain the intricate links between language and society
  • Analyse the phenomena of language change and death, development and standardization, regional and social variation as well as the dependence of language use on a range of social variables such as gender, age, status, etc.
  • Apply the knowledge of sociolinguistic theory, research methods, main concepts and terminology in data analysis


Course start time:

  • 2017-12-12

Course duration:

  • 4 weeks


  • 3 ECTS (80 academic hours)

Course language:

  • English

Course level:

  • English language proficiency at Level B2


  • None

Target group:

  • Applicants who have no background in linguistics

Recognition of competences:

  • Digital badge or certificate

Related programs:


Jūratė Ruzaitė

Profesor of Department of Foreign Language, Literary and Translation Studies at Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania

Experienced Professor with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Skilled in Linguistics, Lecturing, Public Speaking, Curriculum Development, and English. Strong education professional with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) focused in Linguistics from University of Bergen (Norway). Research interests include sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, language and ideology.


Violeta Kalėdaitė

Professor of English linguistics at Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania

Research interests include contrastive studies of English and Lithuanian, language acquisition, translation theory and practice, multilingualism and language policy. Member of editorial board at e-journal “Taikomoji kalbotyra” (Applied Linguistics) at Vilnius University. Membership in academic associations: AABS (Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies); SLE (Societas Linguistica Europaea); LITAKA (Lithuanian Association of Applied Linguistics); EAIE (European Association for International Education); ESSE (European Society for the Study of English)

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