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Multi­discipli­nary & Innovative Courses

English as a Lingua Franca: Changing language practices


Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki


Related Degree Programmes:

Master’s Programme in English Studies

Master’s Programme in Linguistic Diversity in the Digital Age






990-1490 EUR Learn more




Dr Svetlana Vetchinnikova

Target Students

The course is suitable for students at Master’s and Doctoral levels as well as language professionals who have an interest in English studies or applied linguistics.


English has become a global language of intercultural communication and is used worldwide as a contact language between people who do not share a common native language. Non-native speakers of English are increasingly using the language with each other in areas such as academia, business, diplomacy, sport and personal relationships. How does this new sociolinguistic situation develop and how does it affect language practices?

Following Mauranen (2012), this course examines the phenomenon of English as a lingua franca (ELF) from three different but interrelated perspectives: cognitive, microsocial and macrosocial. We will start by looking at the linguistic features of ELF and thinking how cognitive properties of multilingual processing can explain them. Moving on to the microsocial perspective, the students will get a chance to observe ELF interaction in the private sphere, paying special attention to misunderstandings and pre-empting them as well as multilingual practices. At the macrosocial level, we will deal with such issues as language ideologies, linguistic imperialism and language ownership. Exploring a very recent concept of ‘translanguaging’, we will discuss the complex and fluid ways in which people use multiple languages, including English, in international communication, and especially in higher education. We will continue by considering the ways speakers monitor and intervene in their own or each other’s language use in ELF interaction/writing, and conclude by taking an applied perspective on ELF and looking at its practical implications for teaching and assessment, among other professional fields. Each lecture topic will be further developed with students in a collaborative workshop format.

For more information on our research and resources, see the ELFA project webpages:

Learning objectives

The students will get acquainted with the concept of ELF and its theoretical framework. They will think of the implications of the phenomenon of ELF for the future of English as well as its practical consequences, for example in the field of education. In addition, they will get hands-on experience of working with authentic linguistic data and applying different research methods, such as corpus linguistics, discourse analysis and conversation analysis.

Course format and teaching methods

The days in the course will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions. In the mornings, the students will listen to the lectures and in the afternoons, they will get a chance to apply their newly obtained knowledge in workshops or language labs. The interactive activities of the afternoons will include (group) discussions, group work, hands-on experience with corpus linguistic tools, mini-research studies in groups or individually on a computer, exercises and tasks. We will also use snippets of real research data at our workshops to provide authentic academic experience.

Means and criteria of assessment

Pass/fail on the basis of attendance, active participation, individual project work (case studies), final project presentation.

In the individual project, each participant will carry out a small research project of their own choice, with the following components:
– a written summary of the project (1000-1500 words) to be handed in on Friday, 18.8. Each participant will get feedback and suggestions from the instructors on Monday, 21.8.
-a presentation of the project during the last meeting on Thursday, 24.8.

More details of the individual project will be discussed during the first meetings, including suggestions for topics and data that might be used.

Course Schedule

Location: City Centre Campus

Monday August 7, 2017          Arrival in Helsinki

Tuesday August 8, 2017    HSS Opening ceremony & Welcome Party

Wednesday August 9, 2017               

10-12 Lecture: Svetlana Vetchinnikova – What is ELF? An introductory lecture

12 Lunch break

13-15 Language Lab: Working on pre-course assignment “Linguistic landscapes”

Thursday August 10, 2017             

10-12 Lecture: Anna Mauranen – Three perspectives on ELF: macrosocial, cognitive and microsocial

12 Lunch break

13-15 Language Lab: Discussion of the lecture, planning of the projects

Friday August 11, 2017             

10-12 Lecture: Svetlana Vetchinnikova – Linguistic features of ELF: Phraseological competence

12 Lunch break

13-15 Language Lab: Working with corpora

Monday August 14, 2017

10-12 Lecture: Svetlana Vetchinnikova – Cognitive properties of second language use

12 Lunch break

13-15 Language Lab: Psycholinguistic tests (e.g. memory, word association)

Tuesday August 15, 2017

10-12 Lecture: Kaisa Pietikäinen – Misunderstandings in ELF & pre-empting problems of understanding

12 Lunch break

13-15 Language Lab: Working with corpora

Wednesday August 16, 2017

10-12 Lecture: Kaisa Pietikäinen – Multilingual practices in ELF: A conversation analytic approach

12 Lunch break

13-15 Language Lab: Practising conversation analysis

Thursday August 17, 2017

10-12 Lecture: Ida Mauko – The native English speaker ideology

12 Lunch break

13-15 Language Lab: Group work and discussion

Friday August 18, 2017

10-12 Lecture: Ida Mauko – Multilingualism and language identity

12 Lunch break

13-15 Language Lab: Group work and discussion

Monday August 21, 2017

10-12 Feedback and work on individual projects

12 Lunch break

13-15 Feedback and work on individual projects

Tuesday August 22, 2017

10-12 Lecture: Niina Hynninen – Language norms in ELF

12 Lunch break

13-15 Language Lab: Working with examination reports from the WrELFA corpus

Wednesday 23, 2017

10-12 Lecture: Niina Hynninen – ELF: Applications and implications

12 Lunch break

13-15 Group work and discussion: review of the course material from the applied perspective, work on the final projects

Thursday August 24, 2017

10-12 Exam day: project presentations

12 Lunch break

13-15 Project presentations