TSL202 - Culture and Society / Social Foundations in ESL

Outline info
Last revision date 2018-07-20 11:27:13.088
Last review date 2018-07-20 11:27:23.792

Subject Title
Culture and Society / Social Foundations in ESL

Subject Description
This subject examines cultural and sociolinguistic issues affecting language learning.

Credit Status
This is a required credit in the TEFL/TESL Certification Programs.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

1. Describe basic sociolinguistic concepts and their relevance to teaching English.

2. Identify some of the components that make up communication but are not part of language per se, and how some of these communication components sometimes vary interculturally.

3. Identify and describe some of the theoretical underpinnings of intercultural communication.

4. Conduct practical research into cultural variation.

5. Describe some of the factors that relate culture to language learning.

6. Explain aspects of English body language and paralanguage to ESL learners.

7. List some of the challenges facing newcomers to Canada as they try to adapt to our society.

8. Describe some of the opportunities and challenges facing people teaching English in foreign countries.

9. Choose materials for ESL learners that give cultural information about Canada.

Cheating and Plagiarism
Each student should be aware of the College's policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism. Seneca's Academic Policy will be strictly enforced.

To support academic honesty at Seneca College, all work submitted by students may be reviewed for authenticity and originality, utilizing software tools and third party services. Please visit the Academic Honesty site on http://library.senecacollege.ca for further information regarding cheating and plagiarism policies and procedures.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at student.conduct@senecacollege.ca.

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.


  • The student's mother tongue is English OR
  • The student's mother tongue is NOT English, but the student has a university degree in which the exclusive medium of instruction was in English OR
  • The student's mother tongue is NOT English, but the student has received the minimum score required in both GOF (ESL 079) and Writing Skills (ESL 934) in an EAP 100 assessment.  Please see "English Assessment and Placement" for registration details for this assessment.

Topic Outline
1. Nature, language and culture

  • nature and language
  • language and dialect
  • the relationship between language and culture
2. Multiculturalism
  • anti-racism
  • acculturation
  • institutional and individual barriers to participation in Canadian society
  • challenges facing newcomers to Canada 
3. Language and interaction
  • backchannels
  • forms of address
  • speech acts
  • conversational implicature
4. Learning a Second Language
  • second language learning
  • language ability
  • pragmatics across cultures 
5. Language contact between individuals and cultures
  • individual contact
  • pidgins and creoles
  • borrowing language
  • culture shock
  • bilingualism and multilingualism
6. Varieties of language
  • ethnicity and language
  • social class and language
  • age and language
  • gender and language 
7. Nonverbal communication
  • proxemics
  • kinesics
  • paralanguage
  • cultural differences in body language and paralanguage
8. Classroom considerations
  • culturally-based topics in the ESL classroom
  • cross-cultural variation in ESL/EFL education
  • learning strategies and styles 
9. Teaching English abroad
  • opportunities
  • cultural issues
  • methodological issues

Mode of Instruction

  • lectures 
  • questions and answer techniques 
  • classroom discussion 
  • pair/group work 
  • individual consultation 
  • student presentations

Prescribed Texts
Topics in Language and Culture for Teachers: Steven Brown & Jodi Eisterhold, University of Michigan Press, 2004, ISBN 978-047-208-89161
Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching: Sandra Lee McKay & Nancy H. Hornberger, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521-484-343

Reference Material
Sociolinguistics: Bernard Spolsky, Oxford University Press, 1998, ISBN 978-019-437-211-4

Required Supplies

Promotion Policy

Grading Policy
A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online (http://www.senecacollege.ca/academic-policy) or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation
Grading is based on the following marking scheme:

Assignment/test Weight of final mark 
Assignment 1: A research report on topics related to sociolinguistics or intercultural communication 18.75%
Assignment 2: A research report on topics related to cultural differences, acculturation and/or language learning 18.75%
Assignment 3: A research report on cultural variation in non-linguistic communication 18.75%
Assignment 4: A research report on teaching English abroad 18.75%
Final Exam 25%
 Assignments are due at the beginning of the class on the dates specified.  Begin your assignments early in anticipation of unforeseen problems that may arise in your work or personal life.  Should extenuating circumstances arise, please contact your instructor immediately, prior to when your assignment is due, so an appropriate course of action can be established.  Late assignments may be subject to a penalty of up to 10% per week and will not generally be accepted beyond two weeks after the assignment due date.

Students must attain a grade of at least 60% to pass the course. 


Approved by: Fiona Bain-greenwood