Linna Zhao from China shares some information about her course in Applied Linguistics at University College Cork and explains some of the aspects she enjoys most…

What is Applied Linguistics?

Languages play an important role in international communications and they enable individuals from different cultures to communicate. Language-related phenomena are central to many aspects of human life, individuals who possess sophisticated knowledge of language and linguistics work in a wide range of professional and academic fields. The study of applied linguistics combines theoretical and ideological dimensions with practical applications and is very pragmatic. The Applied Linguistics Programme in UCC provides us with basic knowledge of linguistics and emphasises the use of the language. Students have the opportunity to focus on and investigate areas of interest. In this blog, I’ve broken down some the main elements of the course including modules and teaching methods.


In China, we have many classes which contain compulsory and elective classes which mean you have little time to manage by yourself. By contrast, studying at UCC we take on three modules (General Aspects of Linguistic Theory, Applied Aspects of Linguistics and Optional Areas of Specialisation in Applied Linguistics), giving you more time to focus on other aspects of college life. During the studies, you can not only acquire the basic knowledge of linguistics, for example, first and second acquisition and pragmatics, but the additional time allows students to find their own interests and apply them into actual life. You have to participate in different teaching activities and the department holds many conferences to help you learn more about your majors, helping to broaden your views.

Teaching methods

Teachers offer lectures about the different topics covered but, rather than being just listeners, students are the part of the conversation. During the classes, we communicate with each other and exchange ideas. During my time here, I’ve worked with active, enthusiastic and dynamic researchers who are committed to teaching and my intellectual development. And postgraduate courses in this field attract students of different nationalities, cultures, and languages. This created a multicultural environment, helping students to develop a multidimensional perspective on language. One more thing to note is that while we not have examinations, we do write lots of essays!

In conclusion, although we have fewer classes than other majors at UCC, this does not mean you will learn less from this course. Through the two semesters’ studying, I have deepened my knowledge of language and built a solid foundation for my future research. Besides, the multicultural environment creates a great chance for us to investigate the different characteristics of a variety of languages.

My own motivation for selecting Applied Linguistics as a possible area of specialisation in my degree programme? Language is a long-cherished interest for me and I believe the study of language, literature and art are vital to our well-being as a society – I am so glad I chose this major at UCC.

Interested in studying abroad? Visit the Education in Ireland website for more information.