Department

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History

The Department of English Language and ELT Methodology came into being following the division of the original Department of English and American Studies into two new departments each with its own special areas of interest (the other of these being the modern-day Department of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures) and is heir to a tradition that stretches back more than a century and is linked inextricably with the name of the founder of Czech English Studies and Czech English-oriented linguistics, Vilém Mathesius (1882-1845). The field of English linguistics in Prague is closely related to the activities of the Prague Linguistic Circle, which was initiated by Mathesius and brought together a number of important local and foreign personalities including Roman Jakobson, Sergei Kacevskij, Nikolai Trubetzkoy, Jan Mukařovský, Bohuslav Havránek, Vladimír Skalička and many others. The core theses and methods of the Circle – which, formulated in 1929, outlined the ‛Praguean’” approach to linguistic issues – as well as the people who advocated those ideas soon came to be known as ‛the Prague School’. The Prague linguistic school and its functional structuralism represent one of the three main streams of European structuralism in the first half of the 20th century. Over the years the Prague English Department has been justifiably proud of its association with the names of such great linguists and Circle members as Bohumil Trnka, Ivan Poldauf and Jiří Nosek, amongst others. At present this tradition is perpetuated in the person and work of Libuše Dušková, author of the only comprehensive academic grammar of English ever published in this country: Mluvnice současné angličtiny na pozadí češtiny (A grammar of contemporary English with reference to Czech), published by Academia, Prague, in 1988). Professor Dušková has also played a leading role in defining the current study and research programmes of the Department and has guided and nurtured dozens of young Czech academics to become specialists in English linguistics, including the majority of her current Department colleagues.

Study programmes

The Department provides tuition in single- and double-honours BA programmes (in cooperation with the Department of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures), MA study programmes and doctoral programmes (PhD). The Department’s programmes focus both on present-day English – on the comprehensive description of the current language at all levels (grammatical, lexical, phonological, textual and discoursal) using the Prague contrastive approach, one based on English-Czech comparison – and on the historical development of English from its infancy up to and including Late Modern English. These study programmes, reflecting above all the practical needs of Czech students of English and the qualification requirements they will encounter in their future search for employment, also incorporate applied linguistics, advanced language teaching, and ELT methodology courses. The Department’s aim is to provide its students with both practical skills and theoretical knowledge applicable in their future lives and careers and indispensable for those among them who wish to join the ranks of successful Department graduates who have found their professional niches as translators, linguists and teachers, or who have made names for themselves in the arts and humanities, in civil-service positions as diplomats and cultural attachés, and in the private sector.

Academic activities

The Department successfully combines the Praguean tradition with contemporary trends in linguistics. Thanks to close cooperation with the Institute of the Czech National Corpus both teachers and students have access to large corpora of digitalised texts and can use modern corpus linguistics methods and tools in their exploration. From the very beginning the Prague English linguists have succeeded in maintaining close contact with leading personalities in the field. In 1997 they organised the awarding of an honorary doctorate to Sir Randolph Quirk, the main author of the largest synchronic grammar of English published in the 20th century; in May 2012, on the occasion of the centenary of English studies in Prague, another co-author of this acclaimed grammar, Geoffrey Leech, was awarded the degree of Doctor honoris causa on the initiative of this Department; and the remaining two co-authors, J. Svartvik and S. Greenbaum, gave lectures as guests of the Department. Among the many other foreign linguistics specialists who have lectured here are such prominent authorities as K. Aijmer, W.-D. Bald, M. Barlow, L. Bauer, R. Dance, B. Fox, D. Geeraerts, M. Görlach, P. Hanks, S. Horobin, S. Hunston, S. Johansson, L. Kahlas-Tarkka, G. Mazzon, B. Mitchell, G. Nickel, M. Scott, J. Sinclair and W. Teubert. We also maintain close relations with English departments throughout the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and Department members contribute to the development of English studies in this country also by sitting on doctoral and other committees as examiners or reviewers. In addition, through participation in student and teacher exchange programmes and other forms of cooperation, the Department is in regular contact with English departments internationally, mainly in Britain (Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Oxford, Cambridge, Canterbury, Bristol, Edinburgh) and elsewhere in Europe (Louvaine, Innsbruck, Freiburg, Munich, Granada, Rioja, Helsinki, Poznan, Aarhus). Department members keep step with current events in their various fields and with the international community also through regular attendance at international conferences (ESSE, Euralex, Corpus Linguistics) and workshops. Several members of the Department sit on editorial boards as editors or editors-in- chief of influential linguistic periodicals and journals (Prague Studies in English, Brno Studies in English, Linguistica Pragensia, Časopis pro moderní filologii (Journal for Modern Philology), Studia Anglica Posnaniensia, European Journal of English Studies, Zeitschrift für Wortbildung / Journal of Word Formation (ZWJW), Working Papers in Early English Lexicology and Lexicography (WPEELEX), and others). In addition to undertaking their teaching duties members of the Department publish extensively, engage in scientific research activities and work on joint or individual grant-funded research projects.

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