U210A: The English Language: past, present, and future (I) Course description

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U210A website

Professor Mohammad Awwad, Course Chair

Faculty of Language Studies

  • U210A: The English Language: past, present, and future (I)

  • Course description

  • Some questions the course answers

  • Course components

  • Course structure

  • Course calendar

  • Course tutoring

  • Course assessment

  • Marking criteria

  • Policy of attendance

  • Specimen Examination Paper

  • References

  • E-mail addresses of U210A Course Chair, Staff Tutors and Tutors

  • Tutor Views on U210A

  • Student Views on U210A

  • U210 Assignment Booklet (TMAs 1-3)

Course Description

U210A The English Language: past, present, and future Part I is the first of two connected courses, U210A and U210B. Together, the two courses provide a detailed discussion and presentation of the historical development of English from its early beginnings to the present; the different registers of English; English in a social context; the relationship between English, culture and national identity; the influence of modern technology on English and the way it is used; and economic, cultural, and political issues arising from the spread of English in the world.

U210A looks at the historical development of English from a language first spoken by a group of mercenaries off the shores of continental Europe into an international language now used by over a billion people; the different contemporary varieties of English; how English is used in different social and cultural contexts; and how it is used creatively, i.e. in works of literature. It is offered for students specializing in English and studying towards a B.A. Hons in English Language and Literature. It is allocated eight-credit-hours, and offered over one semester. For a student to register in it, he/she should have successfully completed EL112.

Some Questions the Course Answers

  • Most people would find Old English unintelligible and Middle English hard to read. Why has the language changed so much?

  • Many people have strong ideas about standard and non-standard English. What is standard English and what is non-standard English? What is the differentiation based upon, and how valid is it?

  • The spread of English to territories outside England led to the creation of new forms of English. How and why did this happen? Did these new forms of English play any role in the development of national identity?

  • English is nowadays the most commonly used language all over the world. Is there something special about English that makes it a lingua franca, or is its dominant position related to cultural, economic, and political hegemony and imperialism?

  • How is English used in different registers? How is it used creatively in poetry, drama, and the theatre? What is the appropriate English to use for literature? Is it standard English, non-standard English or a hybrid non-standard standard English?

Course Components

U210A is made up of the following components:

  1. Two course books co-published by UKOU and Routledge:

  • English: history, diversity, and change

(edited by David Graddol, Dick Leith and Joan Swann)

  • Using English: from conversation to canon

(edited by Janet Maybin and Neil Mercer)

(ii) One set book published by UKOU:

  • Describing Language

(written by David Graddol, Jenny Cheshire and Joan Swann)

(iii) Four 60-minute audio cassettes:

  • Audiocassette 1: history and change in English - what early varieties of English may have sounded like, and the development of different Englishes in different parts of the world.

  • Audiocassette 2: some linguistic characteristics of contemporary varieties of English, and how individual speakers continually vary the way they speak.

  • Audiocassette 3: the use of English in various contexts – everyday conversations and letter writing; English in industry and commerce; 'legalese'; public speaking in English.

  • Audiocassette 4: creative uses of English, from popular music to the literature canon; writers talking about their own language and cultural backgrounds, and how these have influenced their work.

(Course Guide p.8)
U210A: The breakdown of bands and topics dealt with in each audiocassette is as follows:


Side 1: Band 1 Introduction – Joan Swann

Band 2 An Indian tourist guide at work

Band 3 The sounds of old English – Dick Leith

Band 4 Scots and English – Caroline Macafee

Side 2: Band 4 Continued

Band 5 Irish English – John Harris

Band 6 Guyanese Creole – John Rickford

Side 1: Band 1 Introduction – David Graddol

Band 2 Indian English – S.K. Verma

Band 3 variation in Indian English – Jennifer Bayer

Band 4 Accents of English – Susan Wright

Side 2: Band 5 Maori and Pakeha pronunciations in N.Z. – Alan Bell

Band 6 Sounds in Singapore – Tony Hung

Band 7 Style shifting in Cardiff (extract from Frank Hennesey)

Band 8 Codeswitching between Hindi, Kannada and English –

G.D. Jayalkshmi

Side 1: Band 1 Introduction – Janet Maybin and Neil Mercer

Band 2 Aboriginal English – Diana Eades

Band 3 Hedges and tag questions – Janet Holmes

Band 4 Aboriginal data – recordings collected by Diana Eades

Band 5 Informal talk – conversation between a couple from the

Southeast of England

Side 2: Band 6 Literacy in practice: letter writing in English and

Kannada - Jayalkshmi and Janet Mabin

Band 7 English at work – Neil Mercer

Band 8 Work talk – Interview panel

Band 9 Rhetoric and persuasion – Sarajina NADU, and

C. Kuykendall

Side 1: Band 1 Introduction to Language and Art – Neil Mercer, and Janet Maybin

Band 2 The art of spontaneous speech – Neil Mercer, and others

Band 3 English in popular song – Neil Mercer and Guy Cook

Band 4 The English Canon - Marilyn Butler, Stuart Hall, and Paul Seever

Side 2: Band 5 A tongue for sighing – Liz Lockheed, Tony Harrison, David Rubadira, and Catherine Lime

Band 6 Lost in translation – Eva Hoffman

  1. One thirty minute video:

  • This video focuses on examples of language use where it is particularly helpful to see contextual information or nonverbal features. Topics include:

    • How linguists collect and analyse examples of speech.

    • How speech varies in different contexts.

    • Using English – English in work, public speaking, and storytelling.

(Course Guide p.9)

  1. Four television programmes:

  • TV 1 – 'An A-Z of English': from accent to zero, everything you wanted to know about English.

  • TV 2 – 'An English accent': the history, characteristics and use of the accent known as Received Pronunciation.
  • TV 3 – " 'English only' in America": a possible amendment to the US constitution, which would make English the official language, and promote its exclusive use in public life.

  • TV 4 – 'Animated English: the Creature Comforts story': the use of spontaneous speech in the creation of a highly popular advertising campaign.

(Course Guide p.10)

  1. Four study guides: one guide for each block

  1. One study calendar

  1. One Assignment Booklet

Course Structure
The course is divided into four major blocks corresponding to the four general aims of the course: history of English, varieties of English, English in use, and literary English or English as art.
The four study guides that accompany the Course Guide give detailed and easy-to-follow instructions and steps which you will find extremely helpful in reading and understanding the material.
Each study guide deals with one major block of the course. It specifies the components of the block with reference to the course book, the set book, audio and video material, TV programmes (recorded on video cassettes), and TMAs. Block 3, for example, contains the following components:

  • Course book Using English: from conversation to canon,

Chapters 1-4

  • Set book Describing Language, sections of

Chapters 1, 3, 6, and 7.

  • Audio cassette 3 Bands 1-9

  • Video cassette Bands 2 and 3

  • TV3 'English Only' in America
  • TMA 03 options (a) and (b)

(Study Guide 3 p.6)
The above components, underpin the philosophy of the teaching-learning process adopted in this course. You are first introduced to the material in writing, i.e. you read in order to understand. You can then listen to or view relevant material recorded on audio and video cassettes. In many cases the audio and video cassette bands you are required to listen to or view are recordings of authors expanding, explaining, and highlighting points they presented in the chapters they wrote. You are finally required to put theory to practice by doing a good number of activities directly related to the objectives and themes of the block.
Another important feature that underpins the sound strategy of both presenting and learning the material, as reflected in the study guides, has to do with the way the general themes of the course are presented and used as a point of reference and convergence in the four blocks. The main study questions that appear at the very beginning of the study units (one-week study units) are almost always directly related to the major themes of the course. You should use them to focus your attention on the major ideas of the study unit (and how they relate to the themes of the course), and for reviewing the material at the end of each study unit, during end-of-block TMA and final examination review.

Tutorial /

Study Week


Course books, study guides, set books, and other texts

TV programmes

ACs and VCs


Cut-off date


6 October, 03

English: history, diversity and change (EH), Introduction + Chapter 1 'English Voices'

Course Guide

TV1: An A-Z of English

AC1, Bands 1 and 2


13 October, 03

Block 1: History of English

◘ EH Ch. 2: 'English manuscripts: the emergence of a visual identity'

Study Guide 1

Describing Language (set book)

TV1: An A-Z of English


20 October, 03

◘ EH Ch. 3: 'The Origins of English'; Describing Language

AC1, Band 3


27 October, 03

◘ EH Ch. 4: 'Modernity and English as a national identity'


3 November, 03

◘ EH Ch. 5: 'English – colonial-post-colonial'

AC1, Bands 4,5,6


10 November, 03

Block 2: Varieties of English

◘ EH Ch. 6 "Variation in English Grammar'

Study Guide 2

Describing Language

TV2: An English Accent

AC1, Bands 4,5,6

AC2, Bands 1 and 2


13 November


17 November, 03

◘ EH Ch. 7: 'Accents of English'

AC2, Bands 3,4,5,6

VC, Band 1


24 November, 03

◘ EH Ch. 8 'Style-shifting, codeswitching"'

◘ EH Ch. 9 'Good and Bad English'

AC2, Bands 7 and 8


1 December, 03

Block 3: English in Use

Using English: from conversation to canon (UE) Ch. 1: 'Everyday Talk'

Study Guide 3

Describing Language

TV3: 'English Only' in America

AC3, Bands 1,2,3,4,5


4 December


8 December, 03

◘ UE Ch. 2 'Literacy Practices in English'

AC3, Band 6


15 December, 03

◘ UE Ch. 3 'English at Work'

TV3: 'English Only' in America

AC3, Bands 7 and 8

VC1, Band 2


22 December, 03

◘ UE Ch. 4 'Rhetoric in English'

AC3, Band 9

VC1, Band 3


29 December, 03

Block 4: English as art

◘ UE Chapter 5 'What makes English into art'

Study Guide 4

Describing Language

TV4: 'Animated English: the Creature Comforts Story'

AC4, Bands 1 and 2


Band 4


1 January


5 January, 04

◘ UE Ch. 6 'Language play in English'

◘ UE Ch. 7 'An English Canon?'

AC4, Bands 3 and 4

VC1 Band 4



12 January, 04


AC4, Bands 5 and 6

VC1, Band 4


19 January, 04


Assessment Strategy

Continuous assessment : TMAs 1-3 one equally weighted and constitute 70% of this component.

Two equally weighted quizzes constitute the remaining 30% of this component.

Examinable component: The final examination constitutes 100% of this component.

The passing grade is 50/100. To be sure of a pass result, you also need to achieve a minimum of 50% in the examinable component.

* Material covered in this week corresponds to material covered in weeks 8 and 9 in Study Guide 2.

**Material covered in weeks 9-12 corresponds to material covered in weeks 10-13 in Study Guide 3.

*** Material covered in weeks 13-16 corresponds to material covered in weeks 14-17 in Study Guide 4.

Course Calendar

Course Tutoring
This course has a total of (32) 50-minute contact sessions divided into (15) two-fifty-minute tutorials, and a three hour final examination. These tutorials are intended to help you realize the learning outcomes of the courses as well as the cognitive, and communication skills necessary for studying and understanding the U210A material.

Tutorials also give the opportunity of having direct contact with both your tutor, and classmates. Your tutor will explain, expand, and illustrate the major themes of the course and its blocks. Together, you and your tutor will discuss controversial issues such as 'good English' and 'bad English', 'standard English' and non-standard English. You will also have the opportunity to discuss and illustrate the global context of the course, and receive practical training in language analysis and problem solving. Furthermore, your tutor will answer any questions you may have concerning TMAs, quizzes, and the final examination. If you need help and support in the areas of study and communication skills, your tutor will be ready to help during the tutorials and office hours.

Course Assessment
You are required to do three TMAs, take two quizzes, and sit for a three-hour final examination. The weighting and allocation of marks (out of a 100) is as follows:
Three TMAs → 35 marks

Two quizzes → 15 marks (7 ½ marks each)

Final examination → 50 marks
The three TMAs and two quizzes constitute 100% of the continuous assessment component of the course, and the final examination constitutes 100% of the assessment of the examinable component. Your tutor will grade the final examination paper, and all elements of the continuous assessment component with special emphasis on grading the TMAs.
When grading the TMAs, your tutor will make important written comments on the quality of your work. His/her comments will help you reinforce your understanding of major concepts and ideas your essay should address, and improve your writing and argumentation skills and strategies. Your tutor-marked TMAs will be returned to you for further discussion and review either on an individual basis, or during the first tutorial after the TMA. Please make sure you submit your TMAs by their specified cut-off dates and accompanied form, which your tutor will use to keep a record of your progress throughout the course.
Marking Criteria
Your tutor will primarily make use of the following criteria in deciding what mark to give your assignment.

  • The relevance of your answer to the question as set

Your tutor will look for evidence that you have clearly understood the question and directed your answer accordingly.

  • Your knowledge and understanding of the course material

Your tutor will look for evidence that you have understood and can draw effectively on research evidence, ideas, concepts and arguments that are central to the course.

  • Your ability to discuss and evaluate alternative explanations and arguments

Researchers and other commentators may provide different (and sometimes competing) explanations for linguistic events and processes. You tutor will look to see whether you are able to discuss these, and evaluate any arguments put forward in support of a particular viewpoint.

  • The ability to present and pursue an argument

Your tutor will examine the structure of your answer to assess how well you can put together the material you use to sustain and support an argument.

  • The ability to express yourself clearly using academic conventions as appropriate

Your tutor will look for clarity in your work, in the way you make points, present research findings and make critical comments. You are not expected to make extensive use of technical vocabulary, but you should be able to refer to key terms and concepts from the course materials. You should also acknowledge clearly any sources you have drawn on.
For assignments that include practical work with language data, your tutor will take into account:

  • Your ability to make a clear analysis and interpretation of language data as specified in the assignment

Your tutor will look to see whether your analysis is appropriate, whether it draws on relevant ideas and concepts from the course, and whether any interpretation you give is justified by reference to relevant aspects of the data.

The marking scheme for this course will be as follows:
Marking Criteria*



Relevance to question

Knowledge and understanding of course material

Approach to alternative explanations and arguments

Construction of argument

Clear expression and use of academic conventions

Approach to language

data (where appropriate)




None or slight

Very little from course/fundamental


None or with no support from course


Expression and sentence structure needs attention/insufficient referencing



Bare Fail


Some relevant material but failure to address question

Little appreciation of main idea or inadequate knowledge/insufficient reading

No evidence of critical thinking

Lack of organization


Insufficient/not enough

detailed discussion of data



50< 70


Some ability to identify main issues

Very basic understanding of course material/substantial omissions and/or misunderstandings

Lacking /heavily descriptive

Lines of arguments may be clear for short sections but not sustained or developed

Bare bones of structure/coherent expression/attempts at referencing

Analysis barely appropriate

/related to course.

Interpretations barely


*These marking criteria are informed by and mostly extracted from the UKOU U210A Assignment Booklet 2004 (p. 30). They are to be used as general guidelines for marking TMAs, tests, and the final examination as long as they do not violate criteria and marking standards set by AOU including the marking and grading system indicated on page 20 of the U210A Assignment Booklet 2003/2004. They are also subject to any changes AOU might deem necessary.

C C+



Clear evidence of understanding question and overall direction of answer

Effective drawing on evidence/ideas/concepts and arguments central to the course

Recognition and limited discussion of competing explanations for linguistic events/processes

Clear, sustained argument

Good structure/ expression/referencing

Analysis barely appropriate/

related to course.

Interpretations justified

B B+


Very Good

Utilizes a wide range of relevant and contemporary material to produce a cogent and insightful argument

Comprehensive and judicious use of relevant literature

Good discussion of competing explanations and arguments

Assertions are made with evaluated evidence; all sections contributing

Very good structure, expression and ability to employ sources appropriately

Very good analysis.

Judicious interpretations.




Creative /original relevant stance

Excellent knowledge and understanding

Critical approach

Cohesive/and original/creative

Excellent structure, expression and use of evidence

Excellent analysis/


The comments from your tutor should explain why you received the marks given. They will cover the content of your assignment (e.g. your understanding of key issues, the argument you have constructed). Comments may also include teaching points about aspects of your work which could have been strengthened or extended. In addition, they may suggest ways of improving your performance in future assignments.

Policy of Attendance
Absence from tutorials is governed by the following stipulations:

  1. It must be with an acceptable excuse.
  2. It shall not exceed 25% of the total number of tutorials set for the course.

  3. Students shall be notified of their absence.

  4. Students who exceed the 25% limit by one absence shall receive a written warning.

  5. Students who exceed the 25% limit by two or more absences shall not be allowed to take the final examination, and shall be considered to have withdrawn from the course.

  6. Students whose absence falls within the 25% limit shall be required to compensate for their absence by attending tutorials in other sections of the same course, or by doing additional study tasks set and monitored by the relevant tutor(s).

Specimen Examination Paper (SEP)


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