• A
  • A
  • A
Follow us on
ENGL7101 - Introduction to Language and Communication
2020-2021 First Semester
Monday , 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm , MB217

This course introduces students to the theoretical foundations, basic analytical perspectives and emerging themes within the field of language and communication research. It is designed for students who already have solid foundations in linguistics and communication studies, as well as students who are new to the field. We focus on contemporary key issues to provide a state-of-the-art overview of some of the social, cultural and political dimensions in language and communication research. It is of utmost importance that students push themselves to develop a critical, reflexive and sincere perspective on language and communication research. Students are expected to engage in independent research about topics that are of relevant to them, their communities and their future careers as critical global citizens who are able to advance social justice.   



This is a reading-heavy course. Students are expected to complete a minimum of 80 hours of independent reading over the semester. We meet on Monday evenings for two-hour lectures, immediately followed/preceded by one-hour tutorials. The lectures provide detailed overviews of relevant topics in language and communication research, but they do not substitute the readings. In the tutorials students will be given opportunities to engage with the materials through in-class discussion, presentations and group work and thereby apply their knowledge and understanding of the concepts, theories and approaches we discuss in this course.


Course Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

1. demonstrate a deep understanding of key issues in the field of language and communication

2. critically discuss contemporary key issues in the field

3. critically reflect upon how these key issues are related to society, culture, identity, power, politics, personal biographies and social injustice

4. conduct ethically sound and empirically grounded independent research



  1. Tutorial contribution and participation. CLO 1, 2, 3                                  10%
  2. Essay plan (25 September). CLO 1, 4                                                          10%
  3. 500-word reflective learning journal (30 October). CLO 1, 2, 3                10%
  4. Present small piece of empirical research (19 October). CLO 2, 3, 4     10%
  5. Essay draft (14 November). CLO 1, 2, 3, 4                                                   20%        
  6. 1,600-word Final essay (13 December). CLO 1, 2, 3, 4                              40%


Office Hours

Please make individual arrangements to see Jaspal and discuss your learning experience, your final essay and clarify any questions you might have. You are required to book at least two office hours over the semester.


Study Load

Reading                                                                   80h

Writing essay drafts and final essay                  30h

Lectures                                                                   20h

Conducting/presenting small research              10h

Tutorials                                                                   7h

Total                                                                         147h


Syllabus and Readings

This course syllabus lists topics and readings for each session, together with information about the deadlines for assessments. For detailed information on assessments, see the “Assessments” document. You are expected to complete all readings listed below in preparation for (i.e. before) class. All readings will be made available on Moodle. References to further readings will be provided in each session. Students are expected to complete substantial amounts of reading and self-study every week and read widely and independently in preparation for their final essay. Students are expected to actively participate in the tutorials by discussing current issues in language and communication and relating them to their own multicultural biographies and future career aspirations. In the tutorials, students are also invited to conduct a small piece of research and present it in class (on 19 October). Students should reflect on their learning progress by writing a journal.




7 September 2020: Languaging

Lecture:           Body language, affect and effect, animal and plant communication, the Western myth of ‘language’, dialect, variety, register, style, official and national language, international lingua franca, speech community, community of practice, imagined community

No tutorials

Reading 1:       Becker, A.L. (1991) Language and languaging. Language and Communication 11(1-2): 33-35.

Reading 2:       Jaspers, Jürgen and Lian Malai Madsen (2016) Sociolinguistics in a languagised world: Introduction. Applied Linguistics Review 7(3): 235-258.

14 September 2020: Semiotics

Lecture:           The arbitrariness of meaning, semantic meaning, pragmatic meaning, symbols, indexes, icons, indexicality, indexical orders, orders of indexicality, meaning and value

No tutorials

Reading:          Chandler, Daniel (2007) Chapter 2: Models of the sign. In: Semiotics: The Basics. London: Routledge, pp. 13-58.




21 September 2020: Discourse and conversation

Lecture:           Discourse, discursivity, dialogism, turn-by-turn interaction, adjacency pairs, gaps, latching, overlapping, prosody, co-construction of meaning

Tutorial:           Initial assessment. What do you know about language and communication? What do you expect from the course? What is an essay plan?

Reading:          Selting, Margret (2000) The constructions of units in conversational talk. Language in Society 29(4): 477-517.

SUBMISSION – 25 September 2020: Essay plan (up to one page, 10%).

28 September 2020: Body language and multimodality

Lecture:   Embodied communication, written communication, semiotic landscapes

Tutorial:   Matching linguistics landscapes activity

Reading:          Ni-Eng Lim (2019) On co-operative modalities in the formulation of Mandarin Chinese turn-continuations. In Xiaoting Li and Truyoshi Ono (eds.) Multimodality in Chinese Interaction. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 213-254.




5 October 2020: Researching language and communication

Lecture:           What is empirical research? How do we ask socially relevant questions? What is the social relevance of empirical research questions? What is academic critique?

Tutorial:           Andre, Eric and Jaspal present aspects of their own research

Reading:          Blommaert, Jan (2005) Chapter 2: Text and context. In: Discourse: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 39-67.

12 October 2020: Reading week

Please use this week to catch up with readings you might have missed and read widely and slowly according to your own interests.

19 October 2020: Discussing students small research

We use full three hours to discuss students’ projects

No prescribed readings

26 October 2020: Public holiday


30 October 2020: Reflective learning journal (500 words, 10%).




2 November 2020: Multilingual societies

Lecture:   Multilingualism, polyglossia, register, switching, translation, Asian Englishes

Tutorial:           English in Hong Kong and China, codeswitching videos, discuss students’ own verbal and computer-mediated codeswitching practices. When is codeswitching ‘allowed’, when is it discouraged? What are the expectations of diglossia?

Reading 1:       Leimgruber, Jakob R.E. (2013) The trouble with World Englishes. English Today 29(3): 3-7

Reading 2:         Lo, Terence and Colleen Wong (1990) Polyglossia in the ‘printed Cantonese’ mass media in Hong Kong. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 1(1): 27-43.

9 November 2020: Teaching languaging

Lecture:           Foreign language teaching, first language acquisition, second language learning, heritage language education, family language policies, culturally sustainable pedagogy

Tutorial:           Discussing teaching English in a globalised world, NET Scheme, the intersectionality of race, gender, class, age and ability

Reading:          Corruba-Rogel, Zuleyma Nayeli (2018) The complexities in Seguir Avanzando: Incongruences between the linguistic ideologies of students and their familias. In: Mary Bucholtz, Dolores Inés Casillas and Jin Sook Lee (eds.) Feeling It: Language, Race, and Affect in Latinx Youth Learning. New York: Routledge, pp. 149-165.

SUBMISSION – 14 November 2020: Essay draft (20%).

16 November 2020: Linguistic justice

Lecture:           ‘Just’ language, linguistic ideologies and attitudes, history, historicity, nationalism, cosmopolitanism, constructions of identity and alterity, intercultural misunderstanding, voice, linguistic citizenship, raciolinguistics

Tutorial:   tba

Reading:          Wee, Lionel (2018) Essentialism and language rights. In: Lisa Lim, Christopher Stroud and Lionel Wee (eds.) The Multilingual Citizen: Towards a Politics of Language for Agency and Change. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, pp. 40-64.

23 November 2020: Translanguaging

Lecture:           Multilingual and multimodal languaging, the bilingual mind, foreign language teaching for the 21st century

Tutorial:   tba

Reading:          Li Wei (2019) New Chinglish and the post-multilingualism challenge: Translanguaging ELF in China. Journal of English as a Foreign Language 5(1): 1-25.

30 November 2020: Recap, open discussion and essay writing guidelines

SUBMISSION – 13 December 2020: Final paper (2000 words, 40%).


Further Literature

Agha, Asif (2007) Language and Social Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Agwuele, Augustine and Adams Bodomo (2018) The Routledge Handbook of African Linguistics. London: Routledge.

Alim, H. Samy, John R. Rickford and Arnetha F. Ball (eds.) Raciolinguistics: How Language Shapes our Ideas about Race. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 33-50.

Blommaert, Jan (2005) Discourse: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Blommaert, Jan (2010) The Sociolinguistics of Globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Coupland, Nikolas (2007) Style: Variation and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Coupland, Nikolas and Adam Jaworski (eds.) (2009) The New Sociolinguistics Reader.

      Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Coupland, Nikolas (ed.) Sociolinguistics: Theoretical Debates. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Deumert, Ana (2014) Sociolinguistics and Mobile Communication. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Garcia, Ofelia and Li Wei (2014) Translanguaging: Language, Bilingualism and Education. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

King, Brian W. (2019) Communities of Practice: A Critical Introduction. London: Routledge.

Kroskrity, Paul V. (ed.). (2000) Regimes of Language: Ideologies, Polities, and Identities. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.

Lee, Jerry Won and Sender Dovchin (eds.) (2020) Translinguistics: Negotiating Innovation and Ordinariness. London Routledge.

Leung, Janny H. (2019) Shallow Equality and Symbolic Jurisprudence in Multilingual Legal Orders. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lisa Lim, Christopher Stroud and Lionel Wee (eds.) (2018) The Multilingual Citizen: Towards a Politics of Language for Agency and Change. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Makoni, Sinfree and Alastair Pennycook (eds.) (2006) Disinvesting and Reconstituting Languages. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Pennycook, Alastair and Sinfree Makoni (2019) Innovations and Challenges in Applied Linguistics from the Global South. London: Routledge.

Rosa, Jonathan (2018) Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and the Learning of Latinidad. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tagliamonte, Sali (2012) Variationist Sociolinguistics: Change, Observation, Interpretation. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Wang, Ge (2016) Pains and Gains of Ethnic Multilingual Learners in China. Singapore: Springer.

Wodak, Ruth, Barbara Johnstone and Paul Kerswill (2011) The Sage Companion to Sociolinguistics. London: Sage.

Zhang, Qing (2018) Language and Social Change in China: Undoing Commonness through Cosmopolitan Mandarin. London: Routledge.

Zhou, Minglang (2003) Multilingualism in China: the Politics of Writing Reforms for Minority Languages, 1949-2002. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.


Plagiarism Warning


The University’s definitions on “plagiarism” are as follows:

Plagiarism refers to “direct copying of textual material or wilful use of other people’s data and ideas, and presenting them as one’s own without acknowledgement, whether or not such materials, data and ideas have been published” (Paragraph 6, HKU’s “Regulations Governing Students’ Academic Conduct Concerning Assessment”). In other words, a person is committing plagiarism if he/she paraphrases or quotes the work of another person without clearly identifying (according to academic conventions) the borrowed material and documenting its source.

Self-plagiarism refers to “reuse of one’s own data or repeat of previously published written work, or part thereof, in a ‘new’ publication without acknowledging that the data set has been used or written work has been published elsewhere” (Paragraph 3.1, HKU’s “Policy on Research Integrity”). For instance, if a student re-uses largely or fully the contents of his/her past assignment submitted elsewhere and without acknowledging so in the “new” assignment, it can constitute self-plagiarism.

Plagiarism is a very serious offence and it is strictly prohibited in all assignments and examinations: "A candidate shall not engage in plagiarism nor employ nor seek to employ any other unfair means at an examination or in any other form of assessment” (Paragraph 6, HKU’s “Regulations Governing Students’ Academic Conduct Concerning Assessment”). Students should use proper citations and provide sources wherever necessary.

Protocol on the Handling of Plagiarism

There are severe penalties for plagiarism in the School of English. Students found plagiarizing may be failed not only in the plagiarized oral or written assignment but in the course. Their case will also be considered by a School panel which may decide on further penalties depending on the gravity of the offence. This may involve disclosure of the plagiarism committed to teachers of other courses within the School. The panel may also decide to lodge a complaint with the University's Disciplinary Committee which can result in other penalties. For details, please refer to the “Protocol on the Handling of Plagiarism” available on the Faculty’s website.


There are clear university guidelines in the “What Is Plagiarism” booklet. Students should read these guidelines carefully and revisit them from time to time, especially before submitting an assignment. Ignorance about the nature and definition of plagiarism is never an excuse and will not be accepted. The School of English prepared the “Guidelines for Citing and Documenting Sources” (PDF) for students to download.

Originality Checking of Assignments

Please read HKU’s Turnitin webpage for information on this originality checking engine, which “offers originality checking on students' work for proper citation or potential plagiarism. Once a paper is submitted to Turnitin, it will compare with documents in a continuously updated database consisting of current and archived web pages, millions of student papers worldwide, and collections of newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, e-Books and e-Texts”.

2020-2021 First Semester
Monday , 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm , MB217