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Admission Requirements

Similarly tagged 100-level and 200-level courses. Students that do not meet this prerequisite should contact the instructor regarding the required competencies before course allocation.


Globalization continues to bring people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds together, to live and to work and to interact communicatively. This has engendered a very diversified global village with multi-cultural and multilingual agents with shifting identities who must interact. In these interactions, the participants bring along their socio-cultural expectations, communicative resources, norms and values. To attain successful communication in such a diversified world, the participants must understand, negotiate and accommodate to each others expectations. In this course we explore how language is used in social interaction, at the individual, institutional, societal and cultural levels. We investigate what is polite, or impolite; the variety of understandings of speech and language ideologies and how these are sites for potential miscommunication andmisunderstanding.

We also address the role of language in various spheres of everyday life of members of various communities of practice in the global village: governance, economy, health and education and examining how language policies and language planning in various nation states lead to the exclusion of the majority of agents in these domains. We will also debate issues concerning the sociolinguistics of globalization such as the discourses about migration and how globalization influences linguistic vitality and diversity.

Course Objectives

After completion of the course students will be able to

  • understand the complexity of everyday language use

  • describe the factors that can impede transcultural communication

  • develop skills for analysing cross-cultural social encounters

  • debate issues on language policy and language ideologies

  • understand the complexity of linguistic vitality and diversity

Mode of Instruction

The course will consist of a series of lectures and workshops including debates and observations of social interaction in a public arena negotiated during the first meetings. In general each topic will be introduced with a lecture and a critical discussion of a relevant text. For each topic there will be an assigned reading, students will take turns to provide critical commentary during classes and which may be posted on the course
web pages. This will be followed by a workshop in which students carry out a practical exercise related to the topic.


Assessment: In-class and workshop participation
Percentage: 30%
Deadline: Ongoing, weeks 1-7

Assessment: Weekly questions on texts plus two critical commentaries
Percentage: 30%
Deadline: Weeks 1 – 7; students will choose weeks in which they will provide critical commentaries

Assessment: Final research essay (3000 words)
Percentage: 40%
Deadline: Week 8


We will use parts of the following books as textbook. Students might want to purchase one or the other. In addition readings for discussion and debate for each topic will be posted on the blackboard; where available in the Digital Library, a link will be posted.

Bowe, Heather and Kylie Martin 2007 Communication across cultures. Mutual understanding in a global world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Deckert, Sharon K. and Caroline H. Vickers 2011. An introduction to Sociolinguistics: Society and Identity. London: Continuum

Contact Information

Felix K. Ameka
African Languages and Cultures
Leiden University Centre for Linguistics
P. O. Box 9515
2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands
e-mail: f.k.ameka@hum.leidenuniv.nl
tel: + 31 (0)71 – 527 – 2243

Weekly Overview

  1. Using language: Language use in social interaction. Communication.
    1. Politeness and Impoliteness across cultures
    2. Talk in social interaction
    3. Societal and individual multilingualism
    4. Sociolinguistics of development
    5. Sociolinguistics of globalization
    6. Intercultural communication in professional and workplace contexts

Preparation for first session