Sociolinguistic Perception

The details
Language and Linguistics
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
25 April 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

In this module we introduce students to current research and methods in the field of sociolinguistic perception. We examine different kinds of social information that listeners may perceive based on the way that someone speaks. This includes where the speaker is from, as well as other aspects of their social and demographic background. We explore how listeners form judgements, categorisation and interpretations about another person based on the way that they speak.

This module introduces students to current theory on how listeners extract and evaluate social meaning from individuals and groups, as well as what affects their accuracy in doing so. We cover topics such as perceptual dialectology, language attitudes, dialect identification tasks, accent perception and the acquisition of sociolinguistic perception in children.

Module aims

•To familiarise students with the fundamental principles and research into sociolinguistic perception
• To explore with students a range of issues and current debates in the field of sociolinguistic perception
•To equip students with the theoretical/conceptual knowledge to evaluate and/or critique previous experiments and research in sociolinguistic perception
• To provide students with the confidence and knowledge to design and interpret their own sociolinguistic perception experiments.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module students should have:
1. Comprehensive knowledge of the fundamental principles of sociolinguistic perception
2. Ability to follow and contribute to discussions about the perception of language
3. Competence in reading and evaluating research papers on sociolinguistic perception
4. Confidence in designing and interpreting basic experiments in sociolinguistic perception.

Module information

This module aims to familiarize students with some key concepts in sociolinguistic perception. It is also designed to help students develop the skills for designing and developing their own experiments on sociolinguistic perception and to make links between theory and practice. The outline of weekly sessions is as follows:
SESSION 1: Introduction
SESSION 2: Perceptual dialectology 1: geographic identification and draw-a-map tasks
SESSION 3: Perceptual dialectology 2: dialect identification and classification tasks
SESSION 4: Accent perception and social meaning 1: regional variation
SESSION 5: Accent perception and social meaning 2: beyond regional variation
SESSION 6: Developing perceptual awareness: infants
SESSION 7: *Experiment week 1*: experiment design
SESSION 8: *Experiment week 2*: running experiments
SESSION 9: Attitudes towards non-native speakers
SESSION 10: Language and behaviour: socio-psychological considerations

Learning and teaching methods

There will be a two-hour class/zoom meeting per week for ten weeks. Each session will comprise of a mix of lecture-style elements and seminar-style student-centred activities. The lecture-style elements will introduce students to key themes and concepts of sociolinguistic perception. In the seminar-style elements, students will be encouraged to complete pair/group-work discussions and learning activities. In sessions 7 and 8 we will support the students to design and carry out their own sociolinguistic perception experiments. These two sessions will be carried out in a computer lab. The weekly readings listed on Moodle and the syllabus are compulsory as preparation for each session. All materials for the module will be uploaded in advance on Moodle, and all sessions will be recorded and made available through Listen Again portal.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Experiment research proposal    40% 
Coursework   Essay    60% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Ella Jeffries, email: e.jeffries@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Ella Jeffries
Ella Jeffries, e.jeffries@essex.ac.uk, Office: 4.207, Number: 3762



External examiner

Dr Sam Christian D'Elia
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information
Language and Linguistics

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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