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Multi­discipli­nary & Innovative Courses

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


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






900-1490 EUR Learn more




Dr Niina Hynninen

English as Lingua Franca

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 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 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 by 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; and 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 days in the course will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions. In the mornings, the students will attend 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 an authentic academic experience.

Means and criteria of assessment

Pass/fail on the basis of attendance, active participation, individual project work in the form of case studies and 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

Preliminary Course Schedule (pdf)