Language Science Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Language Science?

Language Science is the name for a broad field of study that integrates social and biological sciences with computer science and engineering, plus strong roots in humanities, education, and clinical fields.

The scope of Language Sciences includes the study of the formal structure of language, processing and acquisition at different levels such as phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and discourse.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in Language Science in the following subject areas:

  • MA Applied Linguistics – The study of linguistics, language studies and communication.
  • Structured PhD in Applied Linguistics – Enhance the professional knowledge of language teachers and language professionals by focusing on the core features of language as a system, language learning and acquisition, as well as language in its broader societal context.
  • MA In Global Cultures and Languages – Gain advanced knowledge and expertise in one or more languages.
  • Languages: Advanced Languages & Global Communication – This course is aimed at people hoping to return to the job market with modern language and intercultural communication skills along with competencies relating to managing global relationships, ICT, translation and localisation skills.
  • Teaching Primary Languages – This course explores a range of teaching strategies to help primary school pupils learn a language successfully.

Studying Language Science in college

There are many courses in Language Science that may take place over a few days, weeks or even 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials and taught modules. Assessments will take place on a continuous basis with written examinations and practical assignments combined in order to achieve a qualification. You could also consider work experience or a work shadow in the industry. Relevant work experience is a good way of demonstrating a genuine interest in the field and is regarded favourably by employers.

Work Experience will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a Language Science course you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of languages, words and how their meanings develop and change over time.

As an academic researcher you’ll apply your expertise and skills developed through study and research. You’ll aim to publish papers on your work in peer-reviewed, well-respected journals and will write reports, books or chapters of books on your specialist area of knowledge.

As academic researchers are mainly based in universities, a lot are employed as higher education teaching staff who also carry out research. Some highly sought after roles are purely research-based, but even posts such as postdoctoral researcher often have some teaching element. The typical entry-level post in the field of languages and writing is as assistant editor or the slightly more junior position of editorial assistant. Depending upon your ability, and with some experience, it’s sometimes possible to take on responsibility for small projects.

Lexicographer work involves writing, compiling and editing dictionaries for print and online publication. As a lexicographer, you’ll search specialist databases comprising thousands of pieces of language from a range of sources, including literature, newspapers, online journals, blogs, discussion groups and transcripts of television and radio for evidence of meanings and usages of a word or phrase. You’ll use this evidence and your own judgement and experience to reassess existing entries and identify and consider possible new entries. There is also an academic branch of lexicography, also known as metalexicography, which analyses the practices of lexicography.

As an English or EFL teacher, you’ll use a range of course books and materials, plus a variety of audiovisual aids, to encourage students to communicate with each other using the structures and vocabulary they’ve learnt and to improve the four basic language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. A strong emphasis is placed on dialogue and role-playing, but more formal exercises, language games and literature are also used.

Within the field of Language Science there is a huge variety of roles and occupations so working hours will depend on your chosen profession and the role you take on. Most positions have a typical working week but depending on what you do and where you work, you may work longer hours as required in order to complete projects and reach publication deadlines and targets. This will include evenings and weekends. As a teacher you may spend a lot of time planning lessons, which may not be included in your normal working hours.

Related jobs include:

  • Lexicographer
  • Translator
  • Speech Therapist
  • Audiologist
  • English as a foreign language teacher
  • Clinical Audiologist
  • Marketing executive
  • Public relations officer
  • Publishing copy-editor/proofreader
  • Teacher
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Special Education Teacher
  • Special Education Supervisor
  • Speech and language therapist
  • Teaching assistant
  • Academic researcher
  • Digital copywriter
  • Editorial assistant
  • Information officer
  • Public librarian
  • Social researcher
  • Music Therapy
  • Therapist
  • Clinical Manager
  • Classroom Assistant
  • Health Services
  • Chiropractor
  • Psychologist
  • Psychotherapist
  • Medical physicist
  • Statistician
  • Doctor/GP

Further study

After completing a course in Language Science, you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skill set. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practise in certain career areas such as communications, sociology, history, literature, foreign languages, pedagogy and psychology.


What are some benefits of studying Language Science?

Studying Language Science has many benefits such as more effective communication and understanding.  Teachers of English or other languages can better understand their subject matter, counsellors and mediators can learn the value of affect or intonation, people in business can better grasp the role language plays in their contacts and communications and historians and politicians can see the role played by language and by peoples’ views of language in past and current events.

Finally, linguistics is fun and will make you a more rounded, confident person with interesting things to say.

What are some fields in the Language Sciences?

As with all human sciences, there are several sub-fields in linguistics:

  • Phonetics (the study of how speech sounds are made)
  • Phonology (how these sounds are organized)
  • Morphology (how sounds are organized into units of meaning)
  • Pragmatics (the relationship between language signs and language users)
  • Semantics (the study of meanings themselves)
  • Sociolinguistics (the interaction of language and people or collectives)
  • Syntax (how units of meaning come together to create utterances)

Where can I study Language Science?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

  • The Busuu language is the language of Southern Bantoid of Cameroon. There were only 8 speakers of the language in 1986 and 3 in 2005.
  • With over 300 languages spoken in the US, there is no official language of the country. While the US boasts having no official language, South Africa is known to have the most official languages totalling to 11.
  • Papua New Guinea is the country with the most number of languages in the world. It has 841 languages but it’s predicted that 40 of these languages are to become extinct as only a few people speak them. The Papuan language is the language of Rotokas and its known to have 11 letters only. This makes it the smallest alphabet of any language in the world.
  • Sumerian is the oldest written language dating back to 3500 BC followed by Egyptian dating back to 3300BC. Old Chinese dates back to 1250BC
  • While it’s not the most spoken language in the world, English is the most dominant. It is well received and adopted in the world with many people finding it easy to learn and it’s an official language in most countries.

Mariza Halliday

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