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Research Focus

English Language:

English in Multi-lingual Settings


Language use, contact and change

Language planning and policy


Investigating language as a structural entity

Investigating language as a socio-cultural entity



Literary, cultural and ethnographic studies

Psycholinguistics and language acquisition

Computer application

The three areas of concentration derive from the general direction set by the theme English in multilingual settings. Our work on use, contact, and change in this setting is from a sociolinguistic and discourse perspective, and includes issues in multilingualism, new varieties, pidgins and creoles, language attitudes and literacy, discourse studies, genre, pragmatics, rhetoric and stylistics. The area of language planning and policy has direct significance for Singapore as well as the entire region in relation to English as well as other standard languages (e.g. Bahasa). In a modern, linked global community, it is also essential for studies of English in a multilingual setting to be offset against studies in a comparative perspective of other languages and settings.

To support and sustain this concentration, the Department provides a strong intellectual and research background that enables students of English Language to situate their work in well-informed and appropriate ways. We emphasize both the sociolinguistic and discourse foundations for the areas of concentration, as well as the tools to study them. The foundations include the study of language varieties, language change and evolution, linguistic practices, and issues of language, power, and identity. We also provide an understanding of the structure of language, that is, of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics, and an awareness of how language users make choices that take account of contexts and purposes. Bringing together theory, description, and application, we aim to ensure that introductory knowledge covers a wide range, and that more advanced knowledge is pursued selectively and autonomously according to purpose.

To be educated in an academic discipline is also to have more than a single interest and the key skills to pursue it. The educated specialist needs to develop a sense of the discipline's wider concerns and of the points of intersection with other disciplines. The Department covers in varying degrees of detail, language use and its connections with the mind, physiology, computer application, knowledge and ideology. Students and staff also make connections between their own interests and other areas of intellectual enquiry beyond our immediate borders.