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Student and tutor module reviews

Worlds of English

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: U214
  • Level: 2

Student reviews

Excellent and very interesting module. First few essays were text analyses which I thought was daunting but it wasn't as bad as it looked. The only drawback I thought was the amount of reading and the lack of recorded tutorials.

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: August 2019

There was too much reliance on the course materials, which were old and didn't bear much relevance to the assignment question. I didn't enjoy this module in the slightest.

Course starting: October 2017

Review posted: February 2019

Faculty response

We're sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy studying the module. We value and act upon the feedback we receive, both good and bad, as it helps us to ensure that the materials are engaging and enjoyable for our students and, we're pleased to say, that the great majority find them so.
The module content is designed to be fully self-contained which means that students do not need to study beyond the materials themselves in order to fully appreciate the themes introduced and to carry out the assessment tasks required of them. However, tutors are free to use materials from beyond the course in order to explore and illustrate module ideas.
With regard to the assignments, they are designed to test the student's knowledge of the themes and concepts in the course, and the links provided to module materials in the extensive guidelines for each assignment attest to this.
With regard to the age of materials, we are in an ongoing process of updating aspects of the module when we can in order to keep the content fresh and relevant.

This module was brilliant - engaging, fascinating and diverse. I'm probably biased because I absolutely love etymology, linguistics and the history of language, but this module opened the subject up to me well beyond my initial interest. I have since moved on to an unrelated topic in my next module, and I am actually missing having U214 work to do! The module materials are better than anything you could buy externally - I found myself continuing to read the textbooks by choice, even after submitting the end of module assessment.

There is quite a lot of reading and digesting to do, and I would imagine someone who's not quite as nerdy about English wouldn't enjoy it as much as I did, but in my case it has seriously opened my eyes to the future direction I would like my studies, and eventual career, to take.

Highly recommended!

Caroline Garlick

Course starting: October 2017

Review posted: January 2019

I found this module challenging at the beginning because there is a fair amount of reading involved. However, once in the swing of things it became very interesting and enjoyable. Some of the module assignments were a little strange. However, they did seem to shed light on what the OU level 3 modules would be like. I found it much easier to decide between the grammar and more literary follow-on modules. Overall it was challenging but enjoyable.

Course starting: October 2017

Review posted: January 2019

This was the least enjoyable module of my modern languages degree and to be honest, I only did it because it was compulsory. I would much rather have explored other languages in more detail.

As a result, I found it difficult to engage fully. Having said that, for those who need to gain a good understanding of parts of speech (or word classes as it is now called), the toolkit is not at all bad. I found the history of English section quite interesting in Book 1, but confess Book 2 left me cold, as it felt very much like 'padding'. Book 3 was somewhere between, although there appeared to be some repetition relating to philosophical aspects due to inclusion of the perspectives of individuals.

Personally, I found the course too "waffley" and the tenor somewhat politically correct, permissive and liberal. However, I accept that this description may well be attractive to others.

Course starting: October 2015

Review posted: December 2016

This was an excellent level 2 module. I thought it was the most interesting module, by a distance.

Mark James Black

Course starting: February 2014

Review posted: July 2015

Firstly, I didn't intend to do this module. I did it because after a lot of the commencement dates were changed for many modules, this was one of the more interesting ones that were left on my 'possible ' list, and it renewed my interest in linguistics.

What stood out for me about this course was that my tutor was very enthusiastic about the subject, which I feel helped to stoke my enthusiasm. He was always very eager to help us students.

The work, while mostly interesting, was quite heavy, and in some places the topics did not enthuse me at all which affected my grades I think. I was glad there was no exam, and my mark, being around 60% I feel reflected my interest in the subject as a whole.

Course starting: February 2014

Review posted: February 2015

I finished up my BA(Hons) with this course having studied at OU level 3 for the past three years. I expected it to be somewhat simpler than the work I'd just been doing and was surprised at how much bite the course had as it progressed. Most courses start in a gentle introductory way, and this was no exception, it however went on to some quite serious work and the EMA was second in intensity only to the Art of the 20th Century course I'd just completed with a better result, with the need to draw on academic sources elsewhere in order to create the EMA.

There can be a temptation to widen every TMA answer with the wide array of things to discuss in the linguistics field, and this course more than any I'd encountered required a tight focus on the objectives. In many of the TMAs I initially wondered what I could say to meet the word counts, and inevitably ended up paring back what I'd written instead. Delving into a question in a focused way will still bring up plenty of material worth using.

Parts of the course material can seem tangential and perhaps non-essential, however they are useful when used in a more investigative sense since they can lead to interesting perspectives on the core subject by way of contrast and comparison. Like all OU courses there is a need to engage as fully as possible with the materials since in my experience very little in these courses is there "by accident" and even if at times I could not see the purpose in something, engaging with the material at all times would bring these tangential aspects into a wider picture that was very beneficial to the work since it provided a wider perspective.

I should also mention that my tutor was very helpful for this course, which I was undertaking at a time of very considerable personal adversity. This assistance was instrumental in my achieving the result I'd been hoping for.

All in all, not a course to be undertaken as a soft option - it isn't. However its insights into language are sufficient and varied enough to spark a serious ongoing interest in both linguistics and the politics of language.

Richard Blake-Reed

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: December 2014

This is my favourite module with the OU so far. The course materials are well thought out and consolidate all the ideas in the module nicely.

It maintains a steady pace through the course and although it can be challenging, I never lost interest. My tutor was also great, giving detailed feedback and extremely helpful.

I'd recommend to anyone with an interest in linguistics.

Kathleen Jones

Course starting: February 2014

Review posted: December 2014

I initially chose this course because I needed a 60 credit level 2 course and because it had an EMA. At first I regretted this decision because I could not feign an interest in grammar and the 'Toolkit'! As time progressed I became more engaged with the course materials although the workload is incredibly heavy. I enjoyed learning about the history of the English Language and how it has become a significant lingua franca in contemporary society.

I do feel as though there was an overtly negative view of the language as a 'killer language' that permeated the whole course. A more balanced perspective would have been better. I received a respectable pass 2. Finally a warning note, do not treat the EMA as just an extended essay, it is marked using a separate criteria and you will be required to do a lot of independent research in order to do well. Overall I am glad that I studied U214 and would recommend it to anyone considering it.

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: September 2014

I enjoyed this course, although I was expecting it to be more English Language based than it was - the Linguistic toolkit is excellent, but you have to work out how to bring that learning into your TMAs. The clue is in the title, it really does make you think about the place of English in the world and what this means. It is a challenge though, the TMAs are like individual puzzles to be solved and sometimes its frustrating when you are stuck in the middle of them and can't work out what is required. My tutor was excellent, giving clear feedback and guidance which really helped, but it was painful at times.

I moved onto Art of English and felt I did better on that course from having completed Worlds of English. I am glad I studied it and was pleased with my result.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: June 2014

I was unsure about this module when I first started studying it. I had never studied English at university level so was worried about the work load, the reading etc but was pleasantly surprised! The books are informative and interesting although a little rushed I think. There is a lot to learn although if you keep to the study planner you will be fine.

The TMAs were engaging and I actually enjoyed researching and writing them. The EMA was stressful though but that is to be expected.

My tutor was lovely, no complaints there, he always marked my TMAs within the timeframe and always provided helpful comments.

The module is engaging and I would recommend it.

Course starting: February 2013

Review posted: January 2014

This was a fascinating module - I loved it! I have always been curious of linguistic evolution and diversity, and had briefly touched upon language acquisition in a previous OU module (Biological Psychology).

It begins with the evolution of English over the past 1500 years. The language we use today is barely recognisable from that used over the last millennia and a half. It challenges the idea of the 'correct' use of English; pronunciation, dialect, accent. It discusses code-switching and code-mixing, and their impact on identity; cultural, gender, familial, etc. It covers the diversity of English - who knew there were so many varieties! The challenges of translation also feature, as well as offering an alternative view to Chomsky's Universal Grammar Theory.

Language is inextricably linked to the identity of individuals and groups alike which was highly evident in this module. Its power and influence were examined, in addition to its global impact in social and political terms.

The linguistic toolkit concentrates on the structure of the language, and supports the core module content. But don't think it's all about correct spelling and punctuation; this module could seriously unsettle all those linguistic alarmists out there(of which I was one).

The greatest device we humans have at our disposal is the ability to communicate and collaborate with an almost unlimited supply of tools, i.e. words. Bereft of language, how far would we have evolved as a species?

I believe this module would be of interest to students of language, social sciences, psychology, and possibly law and history. I can highly recommend it!

Tracey Atmore

Course starting: February 2012

Review posted: September 2013

I second the positive comments already made. The tutor was the best. The course materials were well-presented and user-friendly. The history and spread of English and its impact on/relationship with other languages was fascinating. I don't think there were too many TMAs.

In spite of this, I have two negative comments. Firstly, although the course respected the Celtic languages of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and minority languages across the world, the Celtic nations of Cornwall and the Isle of Man didn't even feature in the time-line. The Cornish and Manx languages are surviving against the odds and should be celebrated - not treated as 'dead' or having never existed. This was incongruous with the otherwise enlightened tone of the course and disappointing for a Celtic language enthusiast like me.

Secondly, the 'descriptivist'-'prescriptivist' dichotomy in linguistics is misleading. There is a belief that 'descriptivism' is 'good' and 'prescriptivism' is 'bad'. In reality, no-one calls themselves a 'prescriptivist' - it is just a pejorative label the self-named 'descriptivists' pin on people who disagree with them. The distinction has more to do with teaching policy than language. I don't think anyone actually wants to 'fix' the English language as it is claimed (Lynne Truss doesn't). I would never pin either of these labels on myself and would urge students to read beyond the course materials to get a more balanced view of English and the diversity of opinions surrounding it.

Apart from these two points, I would recommend the rest of the course.

Course starting: February 2012

Review posted: September 2013

I thoroughly enjoyed this course which provided a wide range of the English language. It was a journey from its roots as a local language on the British isles to the predominant World language.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: August 2013

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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Module satisfaction survey

The figures below are taken from a survey of students who sat the exam/completed the end-of-module assessment for the October 2016 presentation of U214. The survey was carried out in 2017.

182 students (a response rate of 30.2%) responded to the survey covering what they thought of 10 aspects of the module.

Please note that if the percentage of students who responded to this module survey is below 30% and/or the number of responses is below 23 it means that only a small proportion of students provided feedback and their views as shown here may not be fully representative of all students who studied the module.

See this page for the full text of questions and more information about the survey.

% Count
Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this module 86.2 156
Overall, I am satisfied with my study experience 82.9 150
The module provided good value for money 69.4 118
I was satisfied with the support provided by my tutor/study adviser on this module 80 144
Overall, I was satisfied with the teaching materials provided on this module 87.2 156
The learning outcomes of the module were clearly stated 86 154
I would recommend this module to other students 77.5 138
The module met my expectations 76.8 139
I enjoyed studying this module 77.9 141
Overall, I was able to keep up with the workload on this module 77.8 137
Faculty comment: "We're pleased to see that respondents continue to appreciate the overall quality of the experience of studying this module, from the conscientious support they receive from tutors to the consistently high standard of the materials. To continue supporting our students in effective and innovative ways, we will be extending the use of regular module team podcasts this year. These provide advice and discussion, as well as alerting students to news and resources relevant to their studies. A support forum dedicated to the end-of-module assessment will be run for a second time, having proved popular."
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