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Multi­discipli­nary & Innovative Courses

English as a Lingua Franca: New practices, new norms?


Department of Languages, University of Helsinki


Related Degree Programmes:

Master’s Programme in English Studies

Master’s Programme in Linguistic Diversity in the Digital Age






900-1490 EUR Learn more




Dr Niina Hynninen

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. We also welcome students who are studying in or are planning to apply for the Master’s Programme in English Studies at the University of Helsinki.


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, sports and personal relationships. How does this new sociolinguistic situation develop, and how does it affect language practices and norms of language use?

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 linguistic features of ELF and briefly discuss 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 as well as in the working life, paying attention to multilingual practices as well as problems of understanding and how to pre-empt them. At the macrosocial level, we will consider the various ways in which languages are policed – whether in the form of policy documents instigated by institutional authorities or by speakers monitoring and intervening in their own or each other’s language use in interaction/writing. We will 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 about our research and resources, see the English as a Lingua Franca in Academic Settings (ELFA) and Language Regulation in Academia (LaRA) project websites:

Learning objectives

Upon completion of the course, the students are expected to:

  • be acquainted with the concept of ELF and its theoretical framework
  • be able to demonstrate familiarity with research developments in the field of ELF
  • have gained hands-on experience of working with authentic linguistic data and of applying different research methods, such as corpus linguistics, discourse analysis and conversation analysis
  • be able to explain implications of the phenomenon of ELF for the future of English as well as its practical consequences, for example, in the field of education

Course format and teaching methods

The course format consists of two 90-min. sessions on each day of the course. The morning session (10.15–11.45) will feature a lecture, followed by a lunch break. The afternoon session (13.15–14.45) consists of a workshop in which the morning’s lecture material is applied through hands-on work with linguistic data, group discussion, and other exercises in groups or individually. We will use snippets of real research data at our workshops to provide an authentic academic experience.


Niina Hynninen, University of Helsinki
Sebastian Malinowski, Karlstad University
Anna Mauranen, University of Helsinki
Hanna-Mari Pienimäki, University of Helsinki
Kaisa Pietikäinen, NHH Norwegian School of Economics
Tiina Räisänen, University of Jyväskylä

The course teachers are all specialists in the field of ELF. Prof. Anna Mauranen (University of Helsinki) is one of the pioneers of ELF research. She is co-editor of Applied Linguistics, and former co-editor of the Journal of English as a Lingua Franca (JELF).  Her recent monograph, Exploring ELF: Academic English shaped by non-native speakers (2012), will provide the foundations for the course. Sebastian Malinowski, MA, is a doctoral candidate in English linguistics at Karlstad University. He applies corpus linguistics in his research on conceptual metaphors in ELF. Dr. Kaisa Pietikäinen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Professional and Intercultural Communication, NHH Norwegian School of Economics. Her research focus is on ELF in the private sphere. In her current research, she applies conversation analysis to studying communication practices developed in long-term relationships between ELF speakers from varied backgrounds. Dr. Tiina Räisänen is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Jyväskylä. She does longitudinal research in the field of business ELF, with focus on the construction of professional communicative repertoires and individuals’ socialization into global working life. Hanna-Mari Pienimäki, MA, is a doctoral student in the LaRA project at the University of Helsinki. Her research deals with the ways in which language professionals use and also regulate language in an academic environment. The course is organised by Dr. Niina Hynninen, who works as a lecturer at the University of Helsinki. She has published on spoken academic ELF, with particular focus on language regulation, and her current research focuses on the regulation of English-medium research writing.

Means and criteria of assessment

Pass/fail on the basis of attendance, active participation, individual project work in the form of 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) a written summary of the project (1000–1500 words) to be handed in on Wednesday, 15 Aug. Each participant will get feedback and suggestions from the instructors on Monday, 20 Aug.

(b) a presentation of the project during the last meeting on Thursday, 23 Aug.

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 6.8.2018 Registration begins

Tuesday 7.8.2018 Registration continues, HSS Opening Ceremony

Wednesday 8.8.2018 Courses begin

HSS 2018 ELF Preliminary Course Schedule (pdf)