The term 'applied linguistics' refers to a broad range of activities which involve solving some language-related problem or addressing some language-related concern. The field is seen as a means to help solve specific problems in society. It focuses on the numerous and complex areas in the society in which language plays a role. Therefore, the goal is to apply the findings and the techniques from research in linguistics and related disciplines to solve practical problems.
In the 1940s, the term was used to refer to applying a so-called 'scientific approach' to teaching foreign languages, including English. During the late 1950s and the early 1960s, the use of the term was gradually broadened to include what was then referred to as 'automatic translation'. The most notable change in applied linguistics has been its rapid growth as an interdisciplinary field. In addition to language teaching and translation, the field of applied linguistics today includes areas such as language for specific purposes (e.g. language and communication problems related to aviation, language disorders, law, medicine, science), language policy and planning, signed languages, communication, computers and language, and language and literacy issues.
In the United Kingdom, the first school of applied linguistics is thought to have opened in 1957 at the University of Edinburgh. This was followed up by many such schools in the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. The applied linguistics programme at Kenyatta University, not only places the university on the global scene as a world class university but is also in tune with the current developments in linguistics.

The changing needs of the workplace have presented a challenge to the universities to train personnel to fill emerging positions. For example, some applied linguists are concerned with helping planners and legislators in countries to develop and implement a language policy (e.g. planners are working in South Africa to specify and to further develop roles in education and government not only for English and Afrikaans but also for the other nine indigenous languages). In the Kenyan case, politicians are making policies affecting language almost without help from applied linguists.
There is need to train professionals who can develop scripts, materials, and literacy programs for previously unwritten languages. In Kenya today, many languages are faced with imminent extinction unless such professionals are produced to spearhead research into these languages with a view to documenting them. Applied linguists can also be of help in developing the most effective programmes possible to help middle-level and adult learners. Applied Linguistics is instrumental in designing curricular, syllabi, and materials necessary for mounting those programmes.
The applied linguistics programme produces human resource capital currently needed such as curriculum designers, material developers, language researchers, language policy developers and planners, language teachers, communication experts, speech writers. Other professionals can work as marketers, political analysts and strategists, examiners, communication specialists (in travel, tourism, and hospitality; banking and finance, diplomacy, and customer service).


  • To train graduates to address language related problems and concerns in educational, occupational
  • To conduct research in different areas of applied linguistics


All candidates will take four (4) core units and four (4) electives as well as the Faculty/School Unit (MAA 500: General Research Methodology.)

Core Units

AEN 500: The Description of Linguistic Form
AEN 501: Structure of Modern English
AEN 502: Linguistic Field Methods
AEN 503: Sociolinguistics


AEN 506: Syllabus Design and Materials Preparation
AEN 507: The Pedagogical Analysis of Spoken and Written Discourse
AEN 508: Language Teacher Education and Classroom Research
AEN 509: Pedagogic Grammar and Lexis
AEN 510: Language Testing
AEN 516: Language Variation and Function
AEN 526: Translation Theory and Interpretation


Candidates taking Option A will take two (2) core units and two (2) electives according to the programmes in which they are enrolled. Those taking option B will write the thesis.

Core Units
AEN 504: Language as Communication
AEN 505: Advanced Grammar
AEN 527: Project (Compulsory for students taking option A)

AEN 511: Linguistic Theories and Language Learning
AEN 512: Language Handicap and Pathology
AEN 513: Language Planning and Education
AEN 514: Psycholinguistics
AEN 518: Comparative Historical Linguistics
AEN 522: Linguistic Analysis




Go to Top