15.02.2017

Research profile of language studies

Language studies at the Department of Language and Communication Studies conduct research that is internationally high-qualified, societally relevant, and ethical. Our research is based on one of the core fields of the research strategy of the University of Jyväskylä: languages, culture and communities in global change processes. In addition, it has strong links to two other core fields: learning, teaching and the learning and growth environments that support development and information technology and the human in the knowledge society.

The overarching goal in the research strategy of language studies is to examine language and its status in the constantly evolving and increasingly multilingual environments. Our research focuses on applied linguistics, which is recognized as an international research strength in the University’s Strategy and Operational Agenda. The core areas of the research are language learning and teaching and discourse studies. Both of these areas share the view of language as social action and our research approach is multidisciplinary.

The results of our research give answers to challenges posed by language learning and teaching as well as changing language practices and environments in schools, work places and the media. Research enables us to study how evolving multilingualism can be one of the causes of inequality but at the same time a significant resource in society.

1. Language learning and teaching

Research in this area re-evaluates the established categorisations related to language and learning. Language is not only seen as isolated languages (first language, second language, foreign language) but also as multilingual and multimodal resources for meaning making taking place in different kinds of environments. These phenomena are studied with the help of theories and methods which address social, interactional and cognitive action and actors. These theories and methods can change our understanding of language learning and teaching. A key aim is to conduct research that is societally relevant and, in particular, to develop pedagogical practices that renew teaching and understandings of learning.

2. Discourse studies

Multidisciplinary and multi-methodological discourse studies examines the dynamic relationship between the use of language and other semiotic resources and social action: what is done with the help of language and how. Discourse studies sees language as social action which is analysed as materialization of variations and choices made by the language user and the interactional situation and brought about by historical, political and economic processes. Language is examined as constructing and transforming reality, for example in constructing knowledge, sense of community, identity and social activity. Discourse studies takes part in the societal discussion on the significance of language use, multilingualism and language expertise in the changing world.