Applied Linguistics with TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) - MA


Kent’s MA in Applied Linguistics with TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) provides teachers with advanced knowledge of linguistics and language pedagogy, informed by research and scholarship, to enhance, develop and inform an understanding of language learning and classroom practice.



The programme is offered by the Department of English Language & Linguistics, and benefits from staff expertise in areas of linguistics that inform classroom practice (such as syntax, morphology, semantics, pragmatics and phonetics), raising awareness of these fields and applying them to TESOL. Students gain an understanding of the theory, methodology and interdisciplinary nature of TESOL, as well as a firm foundation in linguistics.           

Practical teaching opportunities are a feature of the programme, including teaching to peer groups and international students. There is also the opportunity to observe language classes.

Students begin by studying eight modules across the Autumn and Spring terms, before writing a 12,000-word dissertation or teaching portfolio over the summer, supervised by an expert in the department.

The programme is an ideal for teachers aiming to improve their understanding and abilities in communicating across the barriers of language and those who wish to build an international dialogue.

About the Department of English Language and Linguistics

English Language and Linguistics (ELL) is a dynamic and growing department with a vibrant research culture. We specialise in experimental and theoretical linguistics. In particular, our interests focus on quantitative and experimental research in speech and language processing, variation and acquisition, but also cover formal areas such as syntax, as well as literary stylistics. In addition to English and its varieties, our staff work in French, German, Greek, Romani, Korean, Spanish and Russian.

Staff and postgraduates are members of the Centre for Language and Linguistics (CLL), a research centre that seeks to promote interdisciplinary linguistic research. We also have links with research networks outside Kent, and are involved with national and international academic associations including the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, the British Association of Academic Phoneticians, the Linguistic Society of America, the Association for French Language Studies and the Poetics and Linguistics Association.

We welcome applications from students interested in MA and PhD research. Please see our staff and research pages for more information on the topics staff are able to supervise.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, modern languages and linguistics was ranked 3rd for research quality, 3rd for research output and in the top 20 for research intensity, research impact and research power in the UK.

Our submission was the highest ranked nationally to include modern languages – a testament to our position as the UK’s European university. An impressive 100% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Course structure

The programme starts with two core linguistics modules (Sounds and Structure), the choice between two modules (Meaning or Research Skills) and a module on language awareness for teachers (Language Awareness and Analysis for TESOL) so that you have a firm grasp of the linguistic bases of language teaching.

In the spring term the focus is on how languages are learned (Second Language Acquisition), how you can improve classroom technique (Methods and Practice of TESOL), plan for your students’ needs (Course and Syllabus Design for TESOL) and the option between two modules (Materials Evaluation and Development for TESOL or one of the linguistics modules offered that term). 

Students can choose to do either a Research Dissertation or a Teaching Portfolio in the summer term. The dissertation will be an opportunity to plan and develop a piece of empirical research which can be of direct relevance to your current or planned teaching situation. The teaching portfolio functions both as the culmination of the year's work on the program and as preparation for students' professional development as language teachers.


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Modules may include Credits

This course constitutes an in-depth introduction to syntax, focusing specifically on the question of what constitutes knowledge of language. By examining a core area of linguistic investigation (syntax), students will have the opportunity to explore the form and structure of the various kinds of linguistic knowledge speakers possess. The investigation will proceed from a theoretical as well as a descriptive perspective, and students will be encouraged to evaluate theoretical claims in the light of observations drawn from a wide range of languages. As such, the module will equip students with the theoretical and methodological tools required in the specialised modules and will highlight the crucial role of description in supporting and testing theoretical claims.

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This module will review and critique past and current theories of Second Language Acquisition from a range of theoretical perspectives: linguistic, cognitive, psychological and social. It will also examine the wide range of factors which affect the second language learner and how these might be mitigated. It will then continue by indicating the implications for teaching and learning and how far these have an impact on approaches, methods, strategies and techniques in the classroom.

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This module deals with the linguistic study of speech. It covers how speech sounds are produced and perceived and what their acoustic characteristics are (often referred to as phonetics), as well as how speech sounds are organised into sound systems cross-linguistically (often referred to as phonology). Emphasis will be placed on the sound system of English (including dialectal variation) but basics of sound systems across the world's languages will also be covered and contrasted with English so that students are familiar with the gamut of speech sounds available in the world’s languages. Finally, the course will cover the differences between the traditional "static" view of speech sounds as articulatory postures and the organisation of running speech. This will be covered together with the repercussions that our current knowledge about running speech has for our understanding of phonological systems, their organisation and formal representation in phonological theory.

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The theoretical basis and different approaches to syllabus and course design will be introduced. The key concepts, principles and rationale for process, procedural, lexical, functional and task-based syllabuses will be appraised and evaluated. The influence of Second Language Acquisition theory and educational, cultural, social, economic and political factors on the syllabus will be considered when writing and adapting designs for groups of learners in a range of contexts. Ways of assessing students’ needs as part of the process of planning and designing a syllabus and course will be addressed.

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This module will introduce students to language awareness, give an overview of approaches to language analysis for TESOL in the linguistic fields of phonetics, syntax, morphology, semantics, pragmatics and discourse. It will present frameworks and approaches for the analysis of a wide range of text type in both spoken and written English with the aim of sensitising students to language and cultivating their skills for their personal linguistic development and for those they teach in the English language classroom.

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This module will give an overview of the theories and good practice which underpin TESOL. It will show how these have developed and shaped current trends in TESOL pedagogy. Recent and up-to-date research into language learning and teaching will be reviewed, evaluated and assessed for its implications for classroom practice. Current thought on the teaching of the elements and skills of language will be reviewed and assessed and applied to a variety of contexts in which TESOL takes place. Participants will be able to observe and evaluate TESOL teaching and develop their own practical teaching skills through peer group teaching, teaching small groups and or/one-to-one teaching under the supervision of experienced practitioners.

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Teaching and Assessment

Modules are typically assessed by a 2-4,000-word essay, but assessment patterns can include practical/experimental work, report and proposal writing, critiques, problem solving and seminar presentations. You also complete a 12,000-word research dissertation or teaching portfolio on a topic agreed with your supervisor.

Programme aims

  • Provide TESOL practitioners with advanced knowledge of linguistics related to  language pedagogy, informed by research and scholarship, which will enhance, develop and inform their understanding of language learning and classroom practice.
  • To produce graduates who will contribute locally, nationally and internationally to the TESOL community.
  • To prepare students to be more effective in the TESOL classroom.
  • To provide students with teaching and training which is informed by research, scholarship, practice and experience.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

  • Terminology as required for linguistic description, theory and explanation and as applied to TESOL
  • The interdisciplinary nature of TESOL
  • The description and organisation of sound systems, i.e. phonetics and phonology and as applied to TESOL
  • The structure of individual words and sentences, i.e. morphology and syntax and as applied to TESOL
  • The way meanings are generated, i.e. semantics and pragmatics and as applied to TESOL
  • Language varieties, styles and registers and their impact on TESOL
  • First and second language acquisition and its impact on TESOL
  • Teaching methods, strategies and techniques for TESOL
  • Needs analysis for TESOL
  • Syllabus design for TESOL
  • Selection, design and use of materials for TESOL
  • A knowledge and understanding of methodologies and techniques which are applicable to research in areas of applied linguistics and TESOL

Intellectual skills

  • Consider and reflect on research in the fields of applied linguistics and TESOL
  • Critically analyse the theories, principles, methodologies, practices, strategies, techniques in TESOL in the light of research in the fields of applied linguistics and synthesise information from a number of primary and secondary sources to formulate arguments, make sound judgements or propose new hypotheses
  • Interpret, analyse and evaluate teaching and learning materials, language production and language use in the light of relevant theories, frameworks and cultural context.
  • Reflect on past and current learning and past and current classroom practice

Subject-specific skills

  • Apply linguistic and TESOL theories to create or interpret knowledge and experience in the discipline to enhance classroom practice
  • Select and design language teaching and learning materials appropriate to students’ level, interests and learning context
  • Design research tools appropriate for collecting and analysing data in areas of applied linguistics and TESOL
  • Plan, design and conduct an independent research project in areas of applied linguistics and TESOL 

Transferable skills

  • Communication: presenting complex ideas clearly in both written and oral English
  • Teamwork: effective interaction in pairs and groups, exercising personal responsibility and the appropriate decision-making skills
  • Time management: students will manage time, prioritise tasks and adhere to deadlines
  • Problem solving in a variety of contexts
  • IT: high level of competence in information processing using relevant databases and online research


Postgraduate work in English Language and Linguistics prepares you for a range of careers where an in-depth understanding of how language functions is essential. These include speech and language theory, audiology, teaching, publishing, advertising, journalism, public relations, company training, broadcasting, forensic and computational work, and the civil or diplomatic services.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

Our students benefit from training by enthusiastic and dedicated staff with expertise in a variety of areas of linguistics, from formal to quantitative and experimental fields.

ELL students also benefit from excellent library facilities and a linguistics laboratory equipped for research in speech acoustics (recording equipment, studio, software for speech analysis), speech and language processing and acquisition (including eye-tracking, DMDX and E-prime), and general data analysis (MS Office Suite, Statistica, R, and Matlab running on both PCs and Macs).

The Department organises seminars with local and invited speakers that take place throughout the year. Additionally the Centre for Language and Linguistics also organises various events from talks to symposia. In addition, postgraduates can attend any one of three reading groups: the Experimental Reading Group; the Stylistics Reading Group; and the Syntax Reading Group. These groups provide a space where staff, final-year undergraduates and postgraduate students have the opportunity to exchange ideas and learn more about current research issues in their area of interest. All three groups meet regularly to discuss recent research papers as well as draft research papers written by individual members of each group.

Although ELL is a new department, the study of linguistics has a long tradition at Kent and the Templeman Library is well stocked in all areas, particularly those in which we specialise, including sociolinguistics, phonetics, acquisition, language processing, language teaching and stylistics.

The School also provides high-quality IT facilities, including state-of-the-art media laboratories, dedicated technical staff and designated areas for postgraduate study. Other facilities include all-purpose teaching rooms, two networked multimedia laboratories equipped for teaching in phonetics and psycholinguistics and a streamed film library. Experienced technicians can provide support with computing, sound recording and digital media.


In addition to one-to-one meetings with their supervisor, our research students benefit from many additional events that are either specifically designed for them or provide them with opportunities to liaise with all staff.

These events include:

  • an ELL-specific induction day for all postgraduates
  • the chance to act as peer-mentors for MA students
  • presentation of their research at LingLunch and our annual Research Day
  • participation in training seminars covering statistics, the peer-review system, experimental techniques in linguistics
  • reading groups, of which three are currently meeting on a regular basis: the Experimental Linguistics Reading Group, the Syntax Reading Group and the Stylistics Reading Group.

For those who wish to gain in-depth understanding of syntax, semantics and phonology additional training is provided through the Advanced Core Training in Linguistics (ACTL) of which Kent is a member along with Cambridge, Essex, Oxford, Queen Mary, University of London, SOAS and UCL. ACTL classes are offered in the autumn and summer and are open to all postgraduates.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

A first or upper-second class honours degree in a relevant subject or equivalent.

International applicants for whom English is not their first language must have IELTS overall 7.0 with at least 6.0 for each component.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Alongside our research centre below, we also have links with research networks outside Kent, and are involved with national and international academic associations including the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, the British Association of Academic Phoneticians, the Linguistic Society of America, the Association for French Language Studies and the Poetics and Linguistics Association.

Linguistics Lab

The newly established Linguistics Lab is currently housed in Rutherford College and has facilities for research in acoustics, sociophonetics and speech and language processing. English Language and Linguistics (ELL) members also have access to the School of European Culture and Language (SECL) recording studio and multimedia labs which can be used both for research and teaching.

Centre for Language and Linguistics

English Language and Linguistics is the main contributor to the Centre for Language and Linguistics. Founded in 2007, the Centre promotes interdisciplinary collaboration in linguistic research and teaching. Membership embraces not just the members of English Language and Linguistics but also other SECL members with an interest in the study of language, as well as researchers in philosophy, computing, psychology and anthropology, reflecting the many and varied routes by which individuals come to a love of language and an interest in the various disciplines and subdisciplines of linguistics.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Professor Amalia Arvaniti: Professor of Linguistics

Phonetics, phonology, sociophonetics; the production and perception of prosody, cross-linguistic intonational pragmatics, sociophonetics, Greek linguistics, English linguistics and dialectology, bilingualism.

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Dr Laura Bailey: Lecturer in Linguistics

Theoretical syntax and typology, with a focus on polar interrogatives

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Dr Gloria Chamorro: Lecturer in Applied linguistics

Second language acquisition, bilingualism, first language attrition, TESOL.

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Dr Vikki Janke: Lecturer in Linguistics

Syntax, language acquisition and psycholinguistics.

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Dr Eleni Kapogianni: Lecturer in Linguistics

Semantics/pragmatics interface, experimental pragmatics, and intercultural pragmatics.

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Dr Christina Kim: Lecturer in Linguistics

Experimental pragmatics/semantics/syntax, psycholinguistics, syntax/pragmatics interface.

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Dr Tamara Rathcke: Lecturer in Linguistics

Tone and rhythm in music and language, variation and change of prosody, comparative phonetics and phonology.

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Dr Jeremy Scott: Senior Lecturer in English Language and Liteature

Literary representations of dialect, stylistics, narratology and creative writing. 

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The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Applied Linguistics with TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7500 £15700
Part-time £3750 £7850

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact

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