Fall 2020 - LING 309W D100

Sociolinguistics (3)

Class Number: 2503

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We, Fr 3:30 PM – 4:50 PM

  • Instructor:

    Suzanne Hilgendorf
    1 778 782-8583
  • Prerequisites:

    LING 282W. Recommended: LING 160 or LING 260.



A systematic approach to the study of linguistic variation in different areal, social, and cultural settings. Students with credit for LING 409 may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


This course is an in-depth survey of the field of sociolinguistics, which recognizes that language first and foremost is a social phenomenon. Language continually is adapted and formed by its users given their uses for it, or the meanings they seek to convey as they interact with others. Depending on context, users vary their language use in ways that reflect their cultural identities and social factors of significance within their speech communities.   The course reviews a wide range of sociolinguistic phenomena, examining research studies on the users and uses of numerous languages of the world (e.g. English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi, Korean, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Indonesian, etc.)

Among the topics it explores are:

  • the concepts of language, dialect, variety, and the regional/social/political factors distinguishing one from another; -     
  • the significance of concepts such as speech community, social network, and community of practice for understanding language use; -       
  • multilingual societies, multilingual discourse, and the existence of different varieties of a language spoken by monolingual, multilingual, and non-native speakers; -       
  • contact languages such as pidgins, creoles, lingua francaes, and mixed languages;       
  • the grammatical forms of language variation and change due to social factors;       
  • ethnography of communication, politeness theory, and discourse analysis;       
  • sociolinguistics and social justice with respect to gender and language use; education and schooling; and language policy and planning by governments and institutions. 

An additional aim of the course is to provide students with training and extensive practice in formal, academic writing. Students will become familiar with styles of written argumentation, in particular those that are typical in this field and required for advanced study in linguistics.  

Course modifications for remote instruction
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the originally scheduled three hours of weekly instruction on campus Wednesdays and Fridays from 3:30 to 4:50 pm will now be divided into 2 hours asynchronous and 1 hour synchronous instruction.  

For the asynchronous instruction, students will need to access two ca. 1-hour lecture podcasts posted in the course’s Canvas site each week on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Students will be expected to listen to these lecture podcasts sometime before 4:00 pm on the following day.  

For the synchronous instruction, the class will meet virtually via Zoom or similar technology on Wednesdays and Fridays from 4:30 pm to ca. 4:50 pm. Students will have the option of joining these virtual class meetings via computer or telephone, using video with audio or audio connection only. These ca. 20-minute sessions will focus on clarifying information in the podcasts and assigned readings as well as addressing student questions.  

Synchronous: Instruction takes place through live online lectures, some materials available on Canvas
Asynchronous: Instruction take place through pre-recorded lectures and all materials available on Canvas

In addition, following the online class discussion, the professor will hold optional virtual office hours for another 30 minutes, until ca. 5:30 pm. Students therefore will be able to interact with the professor directly via teleconference for up to one hour on Wednesday and Friday afternoons.  

In an exception to the above arrangements, students will need to access the course’s Canvas site from 3:30 to 4:50 pm on two dates in order to complete two mid-term exams. These are tentatively scheduled for Friday, October 23 and December 4.  

The course otherwise relies extensively on the Canvas system for managing and storing course assignments, documents, grades, etc.  

No technologies other than those noted above are planned to be used.  

Note: To receive a passing grade on any assignment, including in-class writing, the quality of writing must be evaluated as at least LPI Level Four.  The following descriptions of LPI levels will be used:
   Level Four: The writing is marred by one or another of a fairly wide range of deficiencies: it may be thinly developed, repetitive, or weak in overall structure; it may contain unvaried, loose or faulty sentence structure; its word choice may be inaccurate, inappropriate, or unidiomatic (that is, it may use expressions that are not found in standard English usage).
   Level Three: Essays are placed at level three if they have many errors in sentence structure and vocabulary, or if they are weak in content and badly organized.  Also placed at level three are essays with a high density of errors in the use of articles, the plurals of nouns, the form and tense of verbs, subject-verb agreement, and the English idiom.  


  • Tentative Course Assignments:
  • Teleconference attendance and lecture participation assignments 10%
  • Participation in on-line discussion board 20%
  • Two chapter summaries 15%
  • Two mid-Term exams 25%
  • Term paper (Literature Review; graded in components) 30%
  • TOTAL 100%
  • A detailed course syllabus will be distributed during the first week of class.


Students should familiarize themselves with the Department's Standards on Class Management and Student Responsibilities at http://www.sfu.ca/linguistics/undergraduate/standards.html.  

Please note that a grade of “FD” (Failed-Dishonesty) can and will be assigned as a penalty for academic dishonesty.  

All student requests for accommodations for their religious practices must be made in writing by the end of the first week of classes or no later than one week after a student adds a course.  

Students requiring accommodations as a result of a disability must contact the Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca).



Wardhaugh, Ronald, and Fuller, Janet M. 2015. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. 7th edition. Np: Wiley-Blackwell. 
ISBN: 978-1-118-73229-8

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).