Language in the real world
This free course, Language in the real world, illustrates why knowledge about how language works (i.e. ‘linguistics’) is helpful (some might say essential) for different aspects of our everyday lives. It provides an introduction to ideas about what language is before introducing applied linguistics – a field dedicated to exploring and addressing situations where language plays a crucial role.
In this course we explore why it is important for us in our everyday lives to understand how language works. By this we mean: how language is learnt, how it is used for social, political or economic purposes, how it constructs identity and reality, and how its particular use in a specific interaction may lead to the success or failure of that interaction. In this way, this exploration provides an introduction to some areas of interest in the discipline of applied linguistics.
The course defines what we mean by ‘language’ by contrasting ‘language’ and ‘languages’, as well as human and (other) animal communicative behaviours. We look at the ‘design features’ of language and whether any can be recognised as unique to human languages. We then move on to the disciplines of linguistics and applied linguistics before considering different puzzles that knowledge about language can help to resolve.
This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course.