- Language, Culture & Communication / Applied Linguistics
- Preparing for University
Language, Culture and Communication: why it’s worth taking it
Three years of Language, Culture and Communication done in a blink of an eye. Some don’t understand the complexity of this degree, some don’t quite figure out what’s it about, some simply think you need to know many languages to take it, some don’t understand the applicability of it and still, some, like me, found it a fascinating course, great for sculpting your soft skills.
If I am to explain it briefly, what do I say? Is it linguistics? Not really. Is it more like sociology? Nah. It actually is a little bit of everything from sociology, to linguistics, to psychology, politics and philosophy, to business. These are all intertwined domains what we study in relation to language. How do we communicate to reach interaction goals, how do we negotiate culturally, what cultural aspects are to be taken into account when you form interpersonal relations and what underlying linguistic principles lie around our perception of ourselves and of others? There are endless questions that could be asked along the way. But why does language matter so much and why should you dedicate three years of your life studying its mechanisms?
Regardless of the professional path you take, you will most likely belong to a community or will have to interact with others as part of your job. You will want to make a good impression, to make yourself easily understandable, to appear cooperative, to go home to a partner, friends, family with whom to get along and so it goes. In every single one of your interactions, what you are doing is that you are negotiating your identity relative to others so as to get their acceptance and validation. Your linguistic choices are one of the primarily means through which you negotiate your identity and your ideas. Language could thus become your tool to signal similarity with the others, or difference. The better you understand the mechanism behind language as applied in the context of real-life interactions, the better you could communicate about yourself and others so as to achieve your communicative goal. However, as we’re continuously globalizing, efficient interactions between cultures, in and outside the workplace, are easier said than done. There are so many sensitivities which, if no properly dealt with, could turn into conflicts, project delays, misunderstandings. This could be something as simple as a feedback mail wrote in a too direct manner.
Indeed, you need to be into this whole sociolinguistics domain to get through these three years alive. The degree is very essay based, apart from the exams, but the good news is that, very often, you’ll get to research your own chosen topic depending on your preferences and in accordance with the theories studied. Doing your own research is a big part of the module and one that I absolutely loved about it. At the end of three years, I’ve done my own research papers in topics such as: crisis communication, (im)politeness, political discourse, language and sterotypization, language and identity construction (in the media, in casual talk) etc. My dissertation topic, for instance, was on the co-construction of expert identity in the entertainment genre and my discussion was centered around the importance of the specific context and of the framework of the people participating (in)directly in the interaction.
My prospects from here are large and the degree opened up a lot of possibilities to follow. I am personally interested in Public Relations and Corporate Communication, for which I feel this degree gave me a very good basis. I decided to do Masters next year and I’m specializing on International Business Communication. As for now, I am drawn by this corporate culture, and, in the future, I’m aiming to work either on reputation management, intercultural training planning, communication advisory, internal comms.
If you are also a people’s person and aim to capitalize your soft skills both in the work place, as well as in your personal interactions, then I think you’ll enjoy this degree as much as I did. Indeed, you may not like every single module, every single essay topic and you may find that, along the way, you’ll get a better idea of your academic strengths and weaknesses. The good news is that, starting from second year, you’ll get a whole range of optional modules to chose from, some from outside of the department. If you think that political discourse is your thing, for instance, than you can design this degree accordingly by taking optional modules from the politics department to strengthen your knowledge. For example, apart form the ones in Applied Linguistics, I chose some modules from the sociology and business department.
If you have any specific curiosities about the course, drop me a message and I’ll be happy to help. In the meantime, enjoy your summer and make the most out of it.