Language and Identity

Course details

From £67.00

Sat 11 May 2019

Language and Identity


This one-day course looks at how we use language to construct a social identity for ourselves, and how social groups and communities use language as a means of identifying their members, and of establishing their boundaries. It aims to demonstrate that language is one of the most fundamental ways we have of establishing our identity, and of shaping other people’s views of who we are. The course is designed for non-specialists in the areas of language study and who therefore need an introduction to the kind of topics which feed into a broader examination of language and society.

The course is divided into four sessions. Each one of the sessions deals with a topic which has been the subject of academic investigation but which are also of interest to anyone interested in language in general. The sessions are concerned with the connections between language, culture and identity and consider the extent to which language can be said to reveal who we are.

The first session (Culture, Language and Identity) looks at how linguistic behaviour signals our identity in relation to a group, and our position within it. It considers how a sense of cultural identity is often centred on a particular language and how the loss of language is associated with loss of cultural identity.

The second session (Language and Social Class) explores the connection between a person’s social class and the linguistic variety that they use: in other words, the way in which their social background affects the way they speak.

The third session (Language and Gender) looks at whether men and women use language in different ways, and the possible reasons for gender-based differences in conversational styles.

The course concludes by discussing our attitudes towards languages and language usage. In the fourth and final session (Attitudes to Language) we consider how we invest some languages and language forms with prestige while others are stigmatised. We will see that such notions are related to social and cultural identity, to power and control, rather than to the language form itself.                                                                                                       

Programme details

9.45am         Registration

10.00am       Culture, Language and Identity

Dr Mariangela Spinillo

11.15am       Coffee/tea

11.35am       Language and Social Class

Dr Mariangela Spinillo

1.00pm         Lunch

2.00pm         Language and Gender

Dr Mariangela Spinillo

3.15pm         Tea/coffee

3.45pm         Attitudes to Language

Dr Mariangela Spinillo

5.00pm         Course disperses

Recommended reading

  • Culpeper, J. Katamba, F. Kerswill, P. Wodak, R. & McEnery, T. English Language: Description, Variation and Context (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)
  • Thomas, L. Wareing, S. Singh, I. Peccei, J. Thornborrow, J. & Jones, J. Language, Society and Power: An Introduction (Routledge, 2nd ed. 2004)
  • Thorne, S. Mastering Advanced English Language (Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd ed. 2008)


Tuition (includes tea/coffee): £67.00
Baguette lunch: £4.90
Full lunch: £14.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses



Dr Mashail Ali

Director of Studies

Dr Ali is a Departmental Lecturer and Director of Studies in Language and Cultural Studies, OUDCE.

Dr Mariangela Spinillo


is a lecturer in Linguistics and has worked in several academic institutions in the UK. She currently teaches at the University of Westminster, as well as being an examiner for Cambridge International Examinations and the Institute of Linguists.


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.