Applied linguistics is an umbrella term that covers
a wide set of numerous areas of study connected by the focus on the
language that is actually used. The emphasis in applied linguistics is
on language users and the ways in which they use languages, contrary to
theoretical linguistics which studies the language in the abstract not
referring it to any particular context, or language, like Chomskyan generative grammar for example.
Interestingly even among applied linguists there is a difference of
opinion as to the scope, the domains and limits of applied linguistics.
There are many issues investigated by applied linguists such as discourse analysis, sign language,
stylistics and rhetoric as well as language learning by children and
adults, both as mother tongue and second or foreign language.
Correlation of language and gender, as well as the transfer of
information in media and interpersonal communication are analyzed by
applied linguists. Also forensic linguistics, interpretation and
translation, together with foreign language teaching methodology and
language change are developed by applied linguistics.
Shortly after the introduction of the term applied linguistics it was associated mainly with first, second and foreign language teaching,
however nowadays it is seen as more interdisciplinary branch of
science. Although in certain parts of the world language teaching
remains the major concern of applied linguists, issues such as speech
pathologies and determining the levels of literacy of societies, or
language processing along with differences in communication between
various cultural groups - all gain interest elsewhere.
In European union the focus of applies linguistics is put on the
issues connected with the language policy of this multilingual
community. The primary aim is to keep the balance in fulfilling the
need for lingua franca and maintaining smaller languages in order for
them not to get devalued. This is a pressing matter as with the
migration of people within the European union and from outside its
boarders the mixture of languages is getting more and more complex.
Therefore, the focus is also put on analyzing language attitudes,
adopting common language policy, creating teaching textbooks and other
As it can be seen there are many trends in applied linguistics, some
interconnected, others not having too much in common. There are,
however, some very general tendencies among applied linguists to put
more effort on certain investigations such as languages of wider
analysis, or critical applied linguistics. When it comes to languages
of wider communication it is clear that with the increasing numbers of
international travels and technological advances the need for an
international language raises. As English is the contemporary lingua
franca applied linguists attempt to include language policy and
planning in their interest, but is also concerned with analyzing
language and identity, and special educational needs. Corpus analysis
takes both quantitative and qualitative approach to the study of
language and applied linguists focus of the identification of patterns
of language use depending on social context, audiences, genres and
settings. Critical applied linguistics is interested in the social
problems connected with language such as unemployment, illiteracy and