Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Undergraduate Course Descriptions

The list of undergraduate courses on this page provides an overview of the courses we regularly offer. For complete information on the UG courses offered in a given semester, please consult the University’s searchable Schedule of Courses. Search for the abbreviation “APLNG”. Our portfolio of UG courses is growing every year.

All courses in this list are taken for 3 credits. Most do not have prerequisites but where needed, prerequisites are listed.

Many courses in this list can be used to fulfill the requirements of the TESOL Minor. Please contact Dr. Sharon Childs, Coordinator of the TESOL Minor program, at ssc5@psu.edu with questions about the TESOL Minor.

Many of our undergraduate courses are also General Education classes. Each Gen Ed class is linked to one or more domains of study. Check the full description of Gen Ed on the website of the Office of General Education to review the full set of domains and how undergraduates are expected to distribute their Gen Ed credits.

In this list, the following markings give domain and other distribution information:

  • GH: Humanities
  • GS: Social Sciences
  • IL: International Cultures
  • FY: First-Year Seminar
  • N: indicates an Integrated Studies/Interdomain General Education course which fulfills domain credits in two domains.
  • TM: this course is currently a prescribed (required) course for the TESOL Minor
  • TM-A: this course is an additional (elective) course for the TESOL Minor
  • US: United States culture

First-Year Seminar: Language as Social Practice

(FY) (GS) (IL) (US) (TM-A)

This course introduces the idea of understanding language use as social practice. This means studying how language serves to represent and to constrain speakers in various social and cultural contexts. The activity of using language will be viewed through the lens of several research domains in the field of Applied Linguistics, a discipline that studies language in the way that real speakers and writers actually use it.


Language, Culture, and Social Interaction

(GH) (IL) (TM)

This course is an introduction to the study of language as a communication system and to contemporary thought on the interrelationships among language, culture, and social interaction and their fundamental links to social identities and discourse communities in today’s culturally diverse and technology driven environments. It investigates the fundamental links of language, culture, and social interaction to social identities, social role relationships, and discourse communities. This course counts for the Global and International Studies (GLIS) interdisciplinary major in the Culture and Identity pathway.


Global English

(GH) (IL) (TM)

This course examines the historical roots of English and the factors that explain its spread as the lingua franca of globalization and studies how English has adapted INTERNALLY in response to, and in conjunction with, EXTERNAL circumstances. Readings and activities will explore how English language has been instrumental to globalization and how globalization has changed English. This course counts for the Global and International Studies (GLIS) interdisciplinary major in the Culture and Identity pathway.


Multilingual Lives

(GH & GS) (IL) (TM-A)

In recent years Applied Linguistics has witnessed a narrative turn, with growing interest in complementing its logico-scientific core with analysis of stories about multilingual experiences. This course will explore how the intersection of knowledge domains from the social sciences and the humanities can enrich our understanding and appreciation of multilingualism, including its challenges and its intellectual benefits. This course counts for the Global and International Studies (GLIS) interdisciplinary major in the Culture and Identity pathway.


Language and Social Justice

(GH & GS) (IL)

This course examines the contribution of language to a variety of social justice agendas by exploring how language is used to form and support unjust social structures. The course has two main aims. First, drawing from sociolinguistic theories of linguistic ideologies, the course aims to show the significance of language in how the hierarchization and ranking of languages in a society are produced, maintained, and reinforced. The second aim is to demonstrate the effects of such a hierarchization and ranking of languages on (in)equality in educational institutions and before the law. The topics covered in this course include the role of language in structuring individual identity and human relations and how this process characterizes the nature of social institutions in producing social inequality. As the course touches on issues pertinent to our daily lives, students’ questions, comments, and relevant personal experiences and observations will play an important role in our exploration of how the language we use can affect opportunities and privileges in society.

General Education – Integrative: Interdomain
GenEd Learning Objective: Crit and Analytical Think
GenEd Learning Objective: Global Learning
GenEd Learning Objective: Integrative Thinking


Peer Tutoring for Multilingual Writers


This course provides a theoretically grounded introduction to the principles and practices of peer tutoring with multilingual writers (writers for whom English is not a first language). It is designed specifically for undergraduate students who wish to be employed as Peer Tutors with Penn State Learning at the Writing Center. Undergraduate students of any major and of any language background are welcome to enroll in this course. Students who want to work as Peer Tutors must have completed their own first-year writing requirement; it is recommended that they have completed ENGL 202 also.

Prerequisite: ENGL 15 or ESL 15


Language and Technology

(GH & GS)

This course is designed to introduce students to how technology plays a role in language learning, education in general, and its impact on the society. To develop students’ skills in Social and Behavioral Science (GS), students are introduced to various learning theory-informed technological applications. To develop students’ skills in humanities (GH), students will develop critical and ethical awareness of applying technology use in education based on learners’ needs. Students will broaden their intellectual horizon regarding technological use in society, and more importantly, gain further understanding on the possible research directions linking technology, linguistics, and education.


Conducting International Comparative Research

(GH/GS) (IL) (TM-A)

The goal of this course is to equip students with effective methods for conducting international and cross-cultural research that addresses issues and problems occasioned by an increasingly globalized world. Students will acquire the background knowledge and skills necessary to analyze and evaluate existing international comparative literature and to design and propose new cross-national and cross-cultural research. This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements and may also serve as a methods course in the Global and International Studies (GLIS) major.


Language Rights, Policy, and Planning


This is a course on language rights, policy, and planning from individual, group, inter-ethnic, and national perspectives. Linguistic minorities are a consequence of colonization by European powers in different regions of the globe. Other effects of colonization and political conflicts include mass movement, migration, and the emergence of nationalism. In such contexts, minorities have made demands for language rights and used language policy and planning as strategies to realize demands for social justice.


Language, Culture and Cognition in East Asian Context


This course is a linguistic introduction to the relationship between language, culture, and cognition with a focus on Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. In this course, we study 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 experiences, and that human thought and language are fundamentally metaphorical in nature.

Prerequisite: ASIA 100; ASIA 101; ASIA 102; ASIA 103; ASIA 104; 5th Semester standing


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 has been designed to provide opportunities to explore various perspectives on theory, research, and pedagogical applications in second language writing. Through readings, writing, class discussion, and development of practical applications, students may develop an understanding of how research and theory can inform their practice, as well as an awareness of how personal and professional factors come together to inform their own theory of second language writing.


Introduction to Applied Linguistics

(IL) (TM-A)

This is a survey course concerned with the application of theories of language to issues in the areas of psycholinguistics, philosophy of language, anthropological linguistics, sociolinguistics, bi/multilingualism, second language acquisition, and second language teaching.


Discourse-Functional Grammar


This course is designed to enable prospective and practicing ESL/EFL teachers to understand the linguistic structures of the English language. Through the use of transformation grammar, students will interpret and analyze the basic grammatical structures of the English language. Students will apply their developing skills of linguistic analysis to recognize, and analyze, and remediate both oral and written grammatical errors in ESL/EFL instructional contexts.


Theory: 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. Of particular interest is the relationship of this research to teaching materials and methods.


Teaching English as a Second Language

(IL) (TM)

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.


Special Topics

(IL) (TM)

Courses given infrequently to explore, in depth, a comparatively narrow subject that may be topical or of special interest. Topics vary.