Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE European Language Knowledge and Awareness

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT European Studies

DESCRIPTION This study-unit will cover different fields which deal with language awareness, defined as “the development in learners of an enhanced consciousness of and sensitivity to the forms and functions of language” (Carter 2003: 64). Language awareness is useful to reflect both on the structure of one’s L1 (mother tongue) and on second and foreign language acquisition/learning. In the former case one develops better explicit knowledge of the L1, which is acquired implicitly as part of one’s developmental process and which is inherently linked with identity; in the latter case one reflects, for example, on similarities and differences between languages.

Reference will therefore be made to concepts which underline relationships between different languages, also from a genealogical point of view. Furthermore, links between language and culture will also presented by referring to the three language families which are most relevant in the local context: Semitic, Romance and Germanic.

The study-unit will be based on lectures on:

(i) language typology, with a focus on languages which are spoken in the Mediterranean basin and on the diachronic and synchronic relationships between them, on the basis of their structural (e.g. how words are formed, word-order in sentences etc.) and functional (e.g. the role of languages in society, the relationship they have with the culture they convey etc.) features;
(ii) metalinguistic knowledge, through which one uncovers linguistic structures and functions that are generally for granted. This knowledge is not language-specific and may therefore be applied across languages, regardless if they are an L1, L2/foreign language etc.;
(iii) translanguaging and ‘learning how to learn’. Translanguaging makes use of the different competences of speakers and on how they use verbal, paraverbal and non-verbal cues in order to make sense of the world around them. This includes finding meanings on the basis of textual organization, making inferences and, in the case of bi- and multilingual speakers, using the different languages at their disposal to communicate, also through code-mixing and switching, as well as through other forms of language contact;
(iv) intercomprehension, which is a practical approach based on mutual intelligibility between different languages. While this is generally immediately evident in the lexicon, intercomprehension also extends itself into the fields of morphology and syntax by focusing, for example, on affixes and word order.

The relevance of language awareness in order to reflect on written/spoken production and to improve communicative skills will be an important feature of the study-unit. Consequently, theoretical notions will regularly be accompanied by examples, by practical exercises and by analyses of different types of texts.

Study-unit Aims:

The aim of this study-unit is to provide students with skills which will help them understand the structure of language, and extend this knowledge to typologically-related languages. It therefore aims to reflect on similarities and differences between languages, also by referring to different approaches regarding acquisition and learning. This will create awareness of the changing dynamics of languages, especially in the light of their relationship with culture.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- demonstrate knowledge of the basic theoretical notions of language awareness by being able to describe them and illustrate them in writing;
- demonstrate knowledge on the various areas included in the discipline by being able to define them, comment on them and associate them to other areas of study;
- describe and analyse features of language awareness, by being able to comment on linguistic notions present in different types of texts.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- use the theoretical notions illustrated during the course by applying them in practice in order to analyse written and spoken texts in different languages;
- demonstrate that s/he possesses knowledge of meta-linguistic terms related to language awareness by providing practical examples of how these can be identified in textual and discourse analysis;
- use the general notions illustrated during this course by applying them to his/her own recognition and productive competencies of languages s/he is familiar with.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:


1. Eschholz, P.A., Rosa, A.F. & Clark, V.P. (2020, 13th ed.) Language awareness: readings for college writers, Boston, MA : Bedford/St. Martin's.
2. Garcia, O. & Wei, L. (2014), Translanguaging: Language, Bilingualism and Education, NY, Palgrave Macmillan.
3. Moravcsik, E. A. (2013), Introducing language typology, Cambridge CUP.

(A list of additional readings will be provided at the beginning of the course)

Recommended reading:

1. “Language Awareness” journal, Taylor & Francis ( (Available online)
2. Brincat, J.M. (2011), Maltese and other languages, Midsea, Malta.
3. Carter, R. (2003). Key Concepts in ELT: Language awareness. ELT Journal 57(1), 64-65. (Available online)
4. Cenoz, J., Gorter, D. & May, S. (2017, 3rd ed.), Language Awareness and Multilingualism, Springer, Boston, MA.
5. De Carlo, M., Anquetil, M., Vecchi, S., Jamet, M., Martin, E., Carrasco Perea,E. (2015). REFIC – Référentiel de compétences de communication plurilingue en intercompréhension [Framework of Plurilingual CommunicativeCompetences in Intercomprehension]. (Available online at:
6. Dufour, M. (2019). Intercomprehension: a reflexive methodology in language education. Éducation et sociétés plurilingues, 44. online)
7. Essen A. (2008) Language Awareness and Knowledge about Language: A Historical Overview. In: Hornberger N.H. (eds) Encyclopedia of Language and Education. Springer, Boston, MA.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Sandro Caruana

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.