Graduate Course Descriptions

Graduate Course Descriptions

Table of Contents

The list of graduate courses on this page will give you an overview of the courses we regularly offer.  To see the courses currently offered in the Department, please consult Penn State’s Online Schedule of Courses (LionPath). Look up “University Park” and “APLNG”.  

APLNG 410 

Teaching American English Pronunciation

This course investigates research on pronunciation development and related pedagogy and is designed to help teachers construct a principled approach to teaching pronunciation. It addresses research on the teaching of pronunciation, the segmental and suprasegmental characteristics of North American English, and beliefs about Standard English. Through this course, students will be introduced to a variety of instructional strategies to help develop and implement appropriate curriculum for English language learners.


Teaching Second Language Writing

This course explores various perspectives on theory, research, and pedagogical applications in second language writing. In addition to current readings, the course also provides opportunities for guided teaching practice with feedback from the instructor and peers. Classroom exercises focus on materials, syllabus, and lesson planning for writing courses. The focus of the course is on teacher development in second language writing.


Introduction to Applied Linguistics

This course provides a survey of major areas of applied linguistics: language teaching and learning, second language acquisition, English as a Lingua Franca, language and identity, language in professional contexts, and critical applied linguistics. In addition to learning about the major areas of applied linguistics, students are expected to develop critical reading abilities, assessing the nature of the evidence in support of various theoretical positions and research methodologies.

APLNG 484 

Functional Discourse Grammar

The course provides substantial background for an understanding of the structure of English for spoken, written, and digital modalities. The readings, activities, and projects are designed for students (often as prospective teachers) to acquire  metalinguistic knowledge and understanding of “grammar” as a conceptual, socio-cognitive system.  The course is expressly designed for L2 teachers to teach grammar within the broader framework of discourse.

APLNG 491 

Second Language Acquisition

This course considers the relationship between second language acquisition (SLA) theory and language teaching. An examination of various aspects of first language (L1) and second language (L2) learning/acquisition processes provides a framework for consideration of basic questions in SLA research and interpretation of findings to date.

APLNG 493 

Teaching English as a Second Language

This course focuses on the teaching of English to speakers of other languages. Specifically, the course explores the multidimensional nature of the teacher as a learner of teaching, the contexts within which teaching occurs, and the activities and content of second language teaching and learning.



This course is designed to provide instructional support and professional mentoring as students complete their MA TESL practicum experience.

APLNG 510 

Health & Aging in Multilingual Contexts as an Approach to Medical Humanities

This course is construed as a sub-discipline in the medical humanities, which is a broad field that explores the role of the humanities and social sciences to the human condition. In the course we explore the contribution that applied linguistics as a discipline at the interface between the social sciences and humanities may shed into the medical humanities, when viewed through the prism of health and aging in multilingual contexts.

APLNG 511 

Applied Linguistics & Health Sciences

This course addresses issues in health research with participants and patients who speak languages other than English or who have limited English proficiency. The course considers the following issues: (a) the translation and cultural adaptation of data collection instruments, (b) models and practices of bilingual interpretation in clinical and research interviews, (c) the analysis of qualitative data from health settings, and (d) the investigation of the nature, causes and consequences of poor health literacy.


Language and Adult Lifespan Development

This course provides a theoretical and practical introduction to theory and research on the effects of adult cognitive development on language acquisition and addresses the following questions: How do language skills continue to develop (or perhaps deteriorate) after formal schooling has ended? Can people learn a second or third language at any age?  How can we translate what we know about adult learning and cognition into practical lessons for communicating more successfully with adults?


Second Language Reading

Following a brief history of reading instruction and models of literacy, this course focuses on practical approaches to teaching and assessing reading with different populations of students, including children, adolescents, and adults. In addition, the course examines: teaching reading for academic and special purposes; vocabulary development; the use of literature in the language classroom; and the development of digital literacies.


Usage-Based Approaches to Second Language Learning and Teaching

This course provides a broad exploration of usage-based approaches to second language learning and teaching. It considers the roles played by cognition, usage, and communication in shaping how we acquire, process, and use language and builds an awareness of language as a complex adaptive system that emerges gradually through usage. Building on these insights, participants will explore and critique foundations to contemporary research about the cognitive processes underlying language structure, language learning, and language teaching.


Communication in Second Language Classrooms

This course focuses on investigating and understanding the dynamics of communication in second/foreign language instructional settings. Students examine different variables that shape the nature of communication in those classrooms including; the conversational behaviors of teachers and students, how teachers and students use language to think together and build classroom communities, and the quality of classroom interaction and its implications for both student learning and second language acquisition.


World Englishes: Pluralizing Policy, Pedagogy, & Proficiency

This course explores the global spread of English, the diversification of its norms, and their pedagogical and policy implications. It critically examines models such as English as an International Language, World Englishes, English as a Lingua Franca, and translingual practice. It applies an orientation of pluralized English to issues of language planning, second language acquisition, interpersonal communication, language pedagogy, and assessment.


Language Ideology

This course focuses on language ideologies and their role in constituting, maintaining, and enforcing social and economic power relations. Readings from sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, language policy and planning, second language acquisition, and media analysis will offer varied perspectives on the definitions, uses, and utility of language ideology as an analytical construct. Students will engage in ideological analysis of linguistic scholarship, institutional discourse, government policy, spoken language data, and second language learning materials.


Language Socialization across Home, School, & Community

This is a survey of research on language socialization from a variety of sociocultural groups across a range of sociolinguistic contexts. After starting with seminal works of those like Heath and Ochs, the course compares later models such as communities of practice and ecological orientations. Particular attention is given to multilingual and multimodal communication in professional and family contexts, concluding with their implications for classroom instruction.


Language Analysis

The course prepares students to carry out the analysis of language data from different research perspectives. Focus may be on data drawn from native or non-native users of a language and addresses various aspect of language including, morphosyntax, phonology, discourse, pragmatics, conversational interaction, semantics.


Computational and Statistical Methods for Corpus Analysis

This course provides a hands-on introduction to core and advanced computational and statistical methods for analyzing corpus data. Topics covered include basic UNIX tools and python scripting for text processing; state-of-the-art computational tools for automatic and computer-assisted corpus compilation and annotation; computational tools for querying and analyzing raw and linguistically annotated corpora; and statistical methods used in interpreting information extracted from text corpora.


Seminar in Applied Corpus Linguistics

This graduate seminar is designed to expose students to a wide range of corpus-based studies to answer questions of interest to applied linguists and language educators. We will examine studies that use large text corpora for describing and analyzing native and learner language from diverse perspectives as well as for language teaching and learning, focusing on theoretical, methodological, and empirical/pedagogical issues. Students will develop hands-on skills applicable to research topics of their own interest. Previous knowledge of corpus linguistics or a programming language is not assumed.


Proseminar in APLNG

This course introduces doctoral students to the research interests and publication portfolios of the applied linguistics faculty.  Classes are also devoted to ethics in the responsible conduct of research and integrity in research publication.


Discourse Analysis

The course provides an overview of the various theories of and approaches to the analysis of spoken and written discourse, e.g., information structure, critical discourse analysis, indexicality, pragmatics, speech act theory, politeness, conversation analysis. The textbook and reading assignments are designed for critical thinking/evaluation of theory coupled with practical application of the analysis of discourse in one language or other languages.  The course is designed for application across academic disciplines.


Seminar in Approaches to Language in Use

The course examines the historical and contemporary landscape of research on language use.  It provides a range of perspectives on various approaches to working with, describing, and analyzing how language is used by speakers and writers. Assignments are designed to have students critically evaluate theoretical orientations as they relate to research, research design, research claims, and pedagogical practice, as well as to have students ponder the “fit” between theory, research, and practice.


Methods of Language Assessment

This course is designed as both a theoretical treatment of language testing and a practical “hands-on” introduction to developing and using language tests. The course is founded on current conceptions of language proficiency as communicative ability and on classical and modern psychometric techniques. Practical applications explore how to select, develop, administer, and analyze both norm-referenced and criterion-referenced instruments in both research and teaching. Students will also have practice in interpreting and reporting scores.


Sociocultural Theory and L2 Learning

Focus is on the principles of sociocultural psychology that are relevant for L2 learning. The core principle is that human consciousness is MEDIATED by cultural artifacts, in particular, language. Other principles and concepts include internalization, inner and private speech, the zone of proximal development, and activity theory, and a unique research methodology known as the GENETIC METHOD.


Analyzing Classroom Discourse

This graduate seminar provides an introduction to basic concepts of conversation analysis (CA) and its use in the study of classroom interaction. Through readings, in-class discussions and research activities, students will develop a basic understanding of the research questions about classroom interaction that CA is used to investigate, working knowledge of CLAN, a transcription software, and practical skills in transcribing and analyzing data.


Theory & Research in L2 Teacher Education

Grounded in recent theory and research from first and second language teacher education, this seminar explores teacher learning and professional development throughout teachers’ careers; the process of teacher socialization that occurs in classrooms, schools, and the wider professional communities where teachers work; and the creation and viability of professional development communities through pre- and in-service activities.


Design & Research of Technology-Mediated Language Learning

This course provides an introduction to the design and research of technology-mediated language learning. Topics covered include principles and criteria for the design and evaluation of technology-mediated language learning systems and materials, methods of research in technology-mediated language learning, and recent agenda and advances in technology-mediated language learning research.


Technology in FL/SL Education

This course provides an introduction to the theories and practices of technology use in second and foreign language education. Topics covered include theoretical and pedagogical considerations underlying technology use in second and foreign language classrooms, overview of information and communication technologies available, principles of the design and evaluation of technology-mediated language learning systems and materials, and the use of technology for promoting language skills and intercultural competence and for language assessment.


Seminar in Second Language Acquisition

The course covers three broad areas of SLA: (1) empirical research that addresses factors that play a role in SLA, including input, interaction, feedback, explicit/implicit knowledge, attention, intention, processing, cognitive/social factors, working memory, age, transfer, aptitude; (2) theories of SLA, including computational/input processing theory, sociocultural theory, socio-cognitive theory, conversation analysis, identity theory, socialization theory, complexity/dynamic systems theory, cognitive linguistics; (3) research on classroom-based L2 learning and teaching.


Qualitative Research in APLNG

This course is designed to acquaint students with the background, methods, and current status of qualitative research in applied linguistics. The main goals of the course are: 1) to familiarize students with a range of contemporary qualitative approaches in applied linguistics research; 2) to develop critical awareness of issues related to trustworthiness and ethics in research design and writing; 3) to offer experience in the collection and analysis of qualitative data.


Experimental Research on Language

This course introduces the student to (a) the conceptual framework, research design, and statistical analysis of experimental research, (b) the framework and rationale for mixed methods research, and (c) the genre of the research proposal.  In addition to regular exercises focused on data design and statistical analysis in SPSS, students choose some research question that interests them, and then they design a research proposal that tests some aspect of this question.


Gesture in Second Language Learning and Teaching

Focus is on an important component of L2 development that has been until very recently overlooked in L2 research: the synchronization of speech and gesture in utterance production. The course considers research on gesture in general and L2 gesture in particular as framed within Slobin’s (1993) Thinking for Speaking hypothesis. We will also consider the role of gesture in language pedagogy both from the instructor’s and the students’ perspective.


Narratives of Multilingual Identity

This course explores the personal meanings of language learning as historically and culturally grounded experience. We review methods of narrative inquiry in applied linguistics, then consider such constructs as ‘identity,’ ‘self,’ and ‘subjectivity’ as they are defined in the applied linguistics literature and illustrated in autobiographical works of multilinguals. We analyze how personal narratives of second language learners/ users illuminate the nature of access, agency, power, and desire in language learning and socialization.


Pragmatics in Language Learning and Teaching

What is ‘appropriate’ language use? What are the links between norms of language use, second language performance, and identity? How can data revealing the nature of learners’ pragmatic choices be gathered in ethical, yet ecologically valid ways? This course provides a critical survey of literature on the development of pragmatic abilities among learners in classroom, technology-enhanced, and immersion settings.


Figurative Language and Cognition

This course introduces the cognitive linguistic view that human cognition is fundamentally embodied and shaped by various figurative processes such as metaphor and metonymy grounded in our bodily and cultural experience, and that human thought and language are fundamentally metaphorical in nature. We will learn how we think and speak figuratively and conceptualize our experience metaphorically in everyday life through the reading of seminal works.


Research in Cognitive Linguistics

This course aims to introduce to the students cognitive linguistic research on how embodied cognition is manifested in language and how embodied experience contributes to human meaning and understanding. Through this course the students will gain a cross-linguistic and cross-cultural perspective on issues concerning the relationship between language, culture, and cognition, with a focus on the conceptualization of emotion, time, and event structure.


Cognitive Linguistics and Second Language Teaching

The goal of this course is to familiarize ourselves with some of the major topics and key concepts of cognitive linguistics (CL), and to draw to our attention the potential applications of CL to language instruction. As a usage-based model, CL considers the knowledge of language to be experientially based in actual speech, and tends to conduct linguistic analysis of real language use. It has considerable pedagogical potential for second or foreign language teaching.


Language Policy and Planning in Education

The course seeks to engage students in thinking of language practices in diverse contexts and the role of language planning therein. Employing various theoretical frameworks the course will explore the relationship between language policies, ideologies and political-economic contexts. It will also examine the role of language planning in, on one hand, better futures, and on the other inequalities and differences.