Applied Linguistics & Discourse Studies (ALDS)
General Advising Questions:
- 1) What is Applied Linguistics & Discourse Studies?
ALDS develops and applies theories to solve everyday problems involving language. It is an interdisciplinary field encompassing work in Applied Linguistics, Writing Studies, Discourse Studies, and Literacy Studies. ALDS focuses on language-related issues such as the following:
- Language Teaching and Learning: How are languages taught and learned? How are language curricula best developed and implemented?
- Language Assessment: How are language competencies evaluated and language tests designed?
- Writing: How is writing used in academic, workplace, and community settings to construct knowledge, accomplish learning, and perform other functions? How can writing best be taught and learned in these settings?
- Literacies: How do people use texts in their everyday activities in society? How can access to literacies be broadened?
- Discourse Analysis: How is language – both spoken and written – used in specific social contexts? And how are other symbolic systems – such as photographs and drawings – used in similar contexts?
- Language in Society: How does language influence society, and how is it influenced by society? What role does language play in creating social identities, social structures, and relations of power?
- Language and the Professions: For what purposes do professionals use language in their work? What makes professional communication in a first or a second language more effective?
- Bilingual Education: How can educational institutions support bilingual development? What makes a bilingual education program effective?
- Language Policy and Planning: How do government policies influence language practices, for instance, with measures to protect endangered languages?
- 2) What's the difference between ALDS and Linguistics?
ALDS and LING are two approaches that investigate how language works. They focus on different aspects of language and use different methods to investigate it. We think it is useful for you to become familiar with the basics of both approaches, so both ALDS 1001 and LING 1001 are required courses in the program. You should take both courses as early as you can and decide which field is right for you. We also recommend that you take some LING courses as electives.
- 3) I want to major in both ALDS and Linguistics. Is there a combined honours in Linguistics and ALDS?
Yes. A BA Combined Honours in Linguistics & Discourse Studies option is available. Although the title does not contain the term “Applied Linguistics” or ALDS but it actually combines the BA Honours in Linguistics with the BA Honours in Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies. It can also be taken concurrently with the CTESL program.
- 4) What can I do with a BA in Applied Linguistics & Discourse Studies
Here are some examples of possible careers for graduates in Applied Linguistics & Discourse Studies:
- Teaching: in public and private schools at all levels of education, in community programs, and in professional organizations (often after further study in a CTESL program, in an MA program, or at teachers college);
- Writing and communications: in writing-intensive positions in government (e.g. in policy units), in corporations (e.g. in communication units), as freelance professional writers, and as consultants;
- Editing: in the government, in corporations, in publishing houses, or as freelancers;
- Translation: in the public and private sectors or as freelancers (often after further study);
- Assessment: as specialists in language testing and test design;
- Training: in professional development units in private- and public-sector organizations, in writing centres and student success centres in universities and colleges, and in school boards as ESL specialists;
- Educational research: as research analysts, consultants, project coordinators, discourse analysts in academic and corporate settings.
- 5) How can I find a job in ALDS?
Every year in the spring we hold a career info session designed specifically to answer this question. We will send out an email to inform you about this session. Feel free to talk to the program’s academic advisor. Advisors change every year. Check this page for the current advisor’s contact information.
- 6) Who can I talk to about my career plans in ALDS
In addition to talking to the ALDS academic advisor (see above) talk to your professors, not just those that are your favourite teachers but every professor in the department. The best time to see your professors is during their office hours which are usually posted on their office doors and/or on their faculty profile pages on the web. If these hours are not convenient to you, email them and ask for an appointment. They will be more than happy to talk to you. Everyone’s email is similar to this one: firstname.lastname@example.org e.g. email@example.com. You may also want to take a look at the “What can I do with a grad degree in ALDS?” page for ideas.
- 7) I'm interested in speech therapy. Can obtaining a BA in ALDS help me with entering a graduate school in speech therapy?
Yes. We have had ALDS majors accepted to programs in speech therapy. In addition to ALDS 2203 Linguistic Theory and Second-Language Learning and ALDS 4602 Second Language Acquisition you should take several Linguistics courses such as LING 2001, 3002, 3004.
You are advised to check and see what the requirements are for the school you have in mind.
- 8) What's an audit? How do I get mine, and how do I use it?
The audit is a document that keeps track of your progress toward your degree. It lists all the requirements of your major and shows whether you have completed them. You should check it periodically to make sure you are on course. In addition to the audit, it is always a good idea to keep track of things manually by checking off the requirements listed in the Undergraduate Calendar here.
Audits are available on Carleton Central. A step-by-step guide to obtaining and reading your audit can be found here.
- 9) As an ALDS major how can I make sure I complete all the requirements on time?
First, become familiar with the Undergraduate Calendar. It describes the requirements and courses offered in our program, and general University requirements and policies. You can find information about the ALDS program on our webpage, or by going directly to the undergraduate calendar.
Second, you should get in the habit of checking your audit at least once every term.
Using the information in your audit and in the Calendar, as well as in the rest of this FAQ, plan your coursework ahead to make sure you can graduate in the time that you intend.
- 10) I'm not an ALDS major. Which ALDS courses can I take?
You can take the following courses because they are without prerequisites:
- ALDS 1001, Introduction to Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies: Survey of topics in Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies: language and power, language and identity, first language acquisition, second language learning and teaching, learning and teaching of writing, language assessment and testing, cross-cultural communication, sociolinguistics, language policy, discourse analysis, literacy, semiotics, and analysis of multimodal texts.
- ALDS 2203, Linguistic Theory and Second-Language Learning: A critical study of linguistic theory and description applied to second-language learning. Includes a brief consideration of similarities and differences in first- and second-language development, bilingualism and types of linguistic error and their significance.
- ALDS 2701, Language in Society: The place of language within society; bilingual and multilingual communities; language, social mobility and social stratification; sociolinguistic factors in language change.
- ALDS 2705, Language, Ideology and Power: How social conditions engender different linguistic choices. Attention to linguistic resources for expressing ideological beliefs and for maintaining and reinforcing power structures in institutional and social sites.
- ALDS 2704, Bilingualism: The linguistic nature of bilingualism. The structure of bilingual societies and the relation between societal and individual bilingualism. The role of bilingualism in language education. (Second year standing is required).
- 12) I’m not a Carleton student. Can I take some courses in ALDS?
Yes; check information on exchanges here.
- 13) What does the Undergraduate Advisor do?
The Advisor’s main job is to answer questions about the program, to help you with your course planning, and to advise about academic matters in general.
However, it is your responsibility to keep track of your requirements. Don’t expect the Advisor to go after you and remind you about classes you need to take in order to graduate. The Advisor does not check the audits of all the students in the program; (s)he only acts if asked by the student.
That being said, the Advisor is happy to go over the audit with you to explain anything that may be confusing, and to give suggestions about courses you can take in the following year. There is a period called March Advising when students are especially encouraged to speak with the Advisor to make sure they are on track.
When you ask the Advisor for help, it is useful if you come prepared – look at your audit beforehand, and perhaps draw up a course plan for the coming year.
- 14) What does the Program Administrator do?
The Program Administrator handles the administrative side of advising – (s)he helps you with course registration, makes adjustments to your audit, and can answer questions about the requirements and the scheduling of courses. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 15) How do I change my major? How do I add or remove a minor?
You can change the program elements in Carleton Central. Instructions can be found here.
- 16) How can I get into a course that is closed?
Go to Carleton Central and file an override request as soon as possible (see information under the “Access To Closed Courses” heading on this page). If the course is needed for your requirements, be sure to say so. If you are an ALDS major, you will most likely be allowed into a closed course, especially if it is a core course, as long as you meet the prerequisites. It will take a few days to process your request. If you don’t see any response in Carleton Central, feel free to alert the Program Administrator. Once a space is created for you, you still need to register by using the CRN for the course. Carleton Central may give you a deadline to do so.
- 17) What are breadth requirements for ALDS?
You must take at least one credit within three of the four subject-matter areas as defined in the Undergraduate Calendar.
For most students, LING 1001 and ALDS 1001 fulfil the Humanities requirement, and two terms of a language take care of the Culture and Communication area (if you do not take language courses you can take one credit from any other courses under the breadth area Culture and Communication). You only need one more credit in either ‘Social Sciences’ or ‘Science, Engineering, and Design’. (Note: you cannot take .5 credit from one and .5 from the other).
- 18) Can I do a course overload?
If you plan your program well ahead of time, you should not need to overload. Avoid it if possible, since taking six classes at a time is not likely to improve your performance in any of them.
- 19) The requirements seem to have changed since I became a student. Do the changes apply to me?
You are subject to the requirements as they were in place at the time when you were admitted to the ALDS program. New requirements only apply to new students. The principle is that we never move the goal posts in the middle of the game.
Here are the links to the current and older versions of the Undergraduate Calendar.
Students entering ALDS programs in 2010-2011:
- Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies – BA Honours
- Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies – BA Combined Honours
- Linguistics and Discourse Studies – BA Combined Honours (Linguistics and Applied Linguistics & Discourse Studies)
- Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies – BA General
Students entering ALDS programs in 2009-2010:
- Applied Language Studies – BA Honours
- Applied Language Studies – BA Combined Honours
- Applied Language Studies – BA General
Students entering ALDS programs in 2008-2009:
- Applied Language Studies – BA Honours
- Applied Language Studies – BA Combined Honours
- Applied Language Studies – BA General
Students entering ALDS programs in 2007-2008
- 20) What happened to the LALS course code? How do the new codes affect the requirements?
The old LALS course code was split into separate codes: ALDS for Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies, and LING for (theoretical) Linguistics. If you entered the program at a point when LALS still existed, you are subject to the older requirements; the system will match LING and ALDS courses as if they were LALS.
- 21) What are core courses?
Core courses are required courses which are central to an education in ALDS. These include ALDS 1001, ALDS 2201 and ALDS 2202.
Core courses are obligatory for those graduating with a degree in ALDS.
- 22) How long does it take to complete the ALDS program?
Between three and four years is the norm. If you switch into ALDS with some breadth requirements satisfied, you may be able to finish the program in three years.
- 23) What courses should I take in which year?
The common theme in this FAQ is that each student has a slightly different case, so there’s no general answer. The program path suggested on our webpage may be typical for an honours BA major, but it is just a suggestion – things may work differently in your case.
You should definitely take ALDS 1001 as soon as possible, since it is a prerequisite for several other ALDS courses especially ALDS 2201 and ALDS 2202. You should take LING 1001 in your first year. You can fill out the rest of your first-year schedule with electives keeping in mind the breadth requirements (see above). In your second year make sure you take ALDS 2201 and ALDS 2202.
- 24) When I'm a 2nd (3rd, 4th) year student, can I only take 2nd (3rd, 4th) year courses?
You may take any course at any time, as long as you meet the prerequisites. Note, though, that some courses may require 3rd year standing; check the description in the calendar. Also, keep in mind that you are required to take a certain number of courses at or above each level, as detailed in the program description and the general requirements.
- 25) Are all the courses listed in the Calendar offered every year?
No. Core courses are normally offered every year, but other courses may not be. Don’t assume that a course listed in the Calendar will be taught. Most courses are offered at least once every two years, but there is no guarantee. Next year’s course schedule is usually published in June, although a tentative list of offerings may be available earlier if you ask the Advisor or the Program Administrator.
- 26) Are there ALDS courses offered in the summer?
ALDS 1001 is usually offered in the summer. Once every few years another course may be taught as well, but do not count or plan on it.
- 27) In what order should I take ALDS 1001 and LING 1001? What about ALDS 2201 and ALDS 2202?
In each pair, the courses are independent of each other, and can be taken in any order. ALDS 2201 and 2202 both have ALDS 1001 and LING 1001 as a prerequisite, and thus must be taken after ALDS 1001.
- 28) What are free electives?
Free elective requirements can be fulfilled by taking any class, within or outside of the program. Pay close attention to what the requirements say; for BA Honours ALDS majors, no more than 2.5 credits of your free electives may be in ALDS.
- 29) Can ALDS or language courses that I take at another university count toward my degree?
You can take courses at Ottawa U or other universities. Whether those courses, including language courses, will count toward your requirements may depend on a variety of circumstances. Do not automatically assume that you can substitute Ottawa courses for Carleton ones. Prior to taking the course, you need to file a LOP (Letter of Permission) at the registrar’s office by submitting a course description. See information here; note that there is a fairly long processing time, and the deadlines are surprisingly early. Once the permission is granted, the course will be counted towards your degree.
Talk to the Advisor before you plan on taking a course outside of Carleton.
- 30) What are Special Topics courses (ALDS 3903 and ALDS 4906)?
Special Topics courses are developed by professors that reflect their particular research interests. More so than other courses, they focus on current research and give you an opportunity to pursue your interests in the field by completing your own research project.
You can find out about current topics courses here. Normally, the information on next year’s Special Topics courses is available in early summer, and often earlier.
- 31) Can I take more than one Special Topics course?
You can take ALDS 3903 and ALDS 4906 more than once. If you have trouble registering for more than one section of these courses, file a “course registration error override” request at Carleton Central.
- 32) How can I satisfy the School's language proficiency requirement?
How can I satisfy the School’s language proficiency requirement?
You can satisfy this requirement in several ways:
First, you automatically satisfy it if you can document your proficiency (i.e. with diploma or language placement test) in an additional language. Be sure to confirm your documentation with our Undergraduate Advisor or Program Administrator. Please be aware that simply having taken a foreign language in high school does not by itself satisfy the language requirement.
If you do not have documented proficiency, you are required to take one credit (two terms) worth of any foreign language(s) offered at Carleton. Please note that FINS courses do not count toward this requirement. Language options at Carleton include:
- 33) Is a first-year seminar (FYSM) required for the ALDS program?
No, but the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences recommends that you take one of the FYSMs during your first year.
- 34) Can I do the CTESL (Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language) program while majoring in ALDS?
Yes. You may earn a concurrent CTESL as part of an Honours BA in ALDS, or as part of a Combined Honours BA in Linguistics and Discourse Studies, or as part of an Honours degree in another discipline. Students must complete four credits of required courses, including a practicum, and 1.0 in optional courses.
If you have questions about the program, consult CTESL webpage.
- 35) Can LING classes count toward my ALDS degree?
LING courses can count as electives. LING 1001 is required for the ALDS degree.
- 36) What's the difference between an independent study and an Honours Project?
Independent studies are just like other courses except you are the only student, working closely with the instructor. The amount of work is similar to other third- and fourth-year 0.5-credit courses. Usually, the independent study results in a term paper. If you are interested in an independent study, talk to potential faculty supervisors, but see also (30).
An Honours Project is a more extensive project over the course of two terms. It may involve (a) a practicum or work study placement in writing or literacy studies, language syllabus design or test development; (b) intensive research activity in an area of Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies.
All projects will include substantial written work. Prerequisite: fourth-year standing in Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies, a CGPA of 9.00 or better, or permission of the School.
- 37) When should I take an independent study?
Normally, we only recommend taking an independent study to satisfy an elective requirement in case there is a scheduling conflict and you need that elective to graduate. You cannot substitute core requirements with independent studies.
If you are interested in working closely with a faculty member, the Honours Project might be a better way to go.
- 38) How do I register for an Independent study or Honours Project?
First, check that you meet the prerequisites (there’s a GPA and standing requirement). Then, talk to the professor you’d like to work with, or to the Advisor if you’re not sure who you’d like to work with. Together with the professor, you will develop the topic and the timeline. You need to submit an “override request” in Carleton Central and complete the “course approval” form. The best time to approach a faculty member about a Project is in the winter of your third year.
- 39) I'm really close to the GPA requirement for an Honours Project. Can an exception be made?
If you don’t meet the GPA requirement, you may still be able to write an Honours Project. It depends on a variety of factors. If your GPA is close to the cutoff, and especially if it has improved over the course of your time in the University, there’s a good chance you’ll be allowed to write a Project. You can discuss this with the ALDS Advisor or a professor who is willing to supervise your Project.
- 40) I'm planning to graduate in December. Can I write an Honours Project?
An Honours Project is normally done over the fall and winter terms. If you start in the summer it should be completed in that term.
- 41) Do I need an Honours Project if I want to apply to graduate school?
Not necessarily. Different graduate programs expect different kinds of writing samples, but in most cases, you need to show that you can conduct research independently and that you write well. An Honours Project is a logical way to produce such a writing sample, and it might otherwise strengthen your application and give you useful research experience, but it is not strictly necessary. Many students have been successful without writing one.
- 42) I lack a prerequisite for the course, but I feel prepared for it. Can you make an exception?
Generally speaking, we do not allow students to override prerequisites. If you think that your case is special, you may talk to the professor and the Academic Advisor. You may obtain permission.
- 43) What should I do if a course I would like to take conflicts with my schedule?
We make every effort to avoid potential conflicts when scheduling courses, but sometimes they are inevitable. If you plan your coursework in advance, conflicts are unlikely to happen. However, if you have more than one major, courses in different departments can conflict, and these cases are the hardest.
If you have a difficult conflict, especially one that prevents you from graduating, talk to the Advisor, who will handle it on a case-by-case basis.
If everything else fails, a solution may be to take equivalent classes at Ottawa U or another University.
- 44) I have a scheduling conflict. Can I substitute a requirement with an independent study?
We do not usually allow substitution of core course requirements with independent studies unless it is a highly exceptional case. You can use independent studies to fulfil elective requirements, provided that there’s a faculty member willing to work with you.
- 46) Are there any teaching assistant (TA) or research assistant (RA) opportunities for me?
That varies from year to year. Sometimes there are excellent opportunities. Ask your professors.