What is Applied Language Studies?

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Applied Language Studies (APPLS) combines the application of second language theories to the practice of learning, teaching, and assessing second languages.

Integrating a wide range of perspectives, APPLS is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on the nature of language. APPLS encompasses a wide range of topics and concerns from theoretical perspectives on second language acquisition, to concepts of culture and identity in respect to language and learning, and methodologies for teaching and assessment.

APPLS is an interdisciplinary area of study and is an excellent fit for students interested in:

  • learning a foreign language
  • teaching second language learners
  • pursuing teacher's college
  • studying Applied Linguistics at the graduate level

Applied Language Studies is administered by the Culture and Language Studies department in co-operation with the following participating University of Waterloo departments and disciplines:

  • Classical Studies
  • French Studies
  • East Asian Studies
  • English Language Studies
  • Germanic and Slavic Studies
  • Italian Studies (St. Jerome’s)
  • Religious Studies
  • Spanish and Latin American Studies
  • Studies in Islamic and Arab Cultures

APPLS Course Offerings

APPLS 205R: Second Language Acquisition

This course introduces major theories of second language acquisition along with reasons for variations in the speed and accuracy of learner progress. It addresses such issues as error analysis, grammatical accuracy, and the effectiveness of bilingual or immersion education.

Prereq: Level at least 2A

APPLS 301: Language, Culture, and Identity

This course provides an introductory overview of fundamental concepts of language, culture, and identity and relates them to foreign/second language learning and teaching. The course is not language-specific but rather addresses general questions related to learning and using more than one language.

[Note: Taught in English.]

Prereq: Level at least 3A

(Cross-listed with GER 301)

APPLS 304R: Language Teaching Methodology

This course offers a foundation for developing competence as a professional language instructor. In classes exploring theories of language instruction, students discover the strengths and weaknesses of traditional and popular methodologies and integrated approaches applied to such areas as communicative competence and general language skill development.

Prereq: APPLS 205R

APPLS 306R: Language Assessment and Testing

Testing is an integral, but often overlooked, component of language teaching and learning. This course explores the principles of language testing and applies them to classroom and high stakes proficiency tests such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The systemic implications of testing will be considered.

Prereq: One of APPLS 205R, 304R, APPLS/GER 301

APPLS 391R: Phonetics

APPLS 391R – Special Topics – Phonetics will be offered by Dr. Kent Williams in the Spring 2024 semester. It is a course specifically designed for students seeking a foundation in phonetics (the study of speech sounds) for future academic and/or professional purposes, especially those wishing to pursue an advanced degree in Speech-Language Pathology.

From the APPLS 391R course outline:

In this course, students study concepts in articulatory phonetics (the mechanisms involved in speech production) and acoustic phonetics (the transmission of physical properties of speech). Students acquire practical skills in reading and transcribing speech using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and in recording, editing, and analysing speech using phonetic analysis software.

APPLS 391Rhas been approved as a prerequisite course for applicants to the Speech-Language Pathology master’s degree programs at the following Canadian universities:

  • McGill University
  • McMaster University
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Toronto
  • Western University

Please note! The APPLS 205R prerequisite has been waived for this course. If you have any questions about registration, please contact Julia Williams, Coordinator of Applied Language Studies: julia.williams@uwaterloo.ca.

Academic Plans

There are two different academic plans open to students participating in Applied Language Studies:

APPLS Diploma

Students enrolled in any degree program or non- or post-degree academic plan may pursue the Diploma in Applied Language Studies. This Diploma may be of particular interest to students who wish to explore issues of second or foreign language teaching and acquisition.

The Diploma in Applied Language Studies requires successful completion of a minimum of two academic course units (four courses) in APPLS courses with a minimum cumulative diploma average of 65%.

These courses will be of interest to students who want to learn about language acquisition theory, the interactions amongst language, culture and identity, language teaching pedagogy, and language assessment. Completion of the diploma (unlike the APPLS Minor) does not require the study of additional language courses.

To graduate with the APPLS diploma, students must declare request the diploma on their Application to Graduate form.


Students enrolled in any degree program may pursue a minor designation in Applied Language Studies.

The Applied Language Studies Minor requires successful completion of a minimum of four academic course units (eight courses) in APPLS core and approved language courses with a minimum cumulative minor average of 65%.

The minor will appeal to students who are taking (or who would like to take) additional language courses and simultaneously deepen their understanding of their language learning experiences by learning about language acquisition theory, the interactions amongst language, culture and identity, language teaching pedagogy, and language assessment.

To register for the APPLS minor on Quest, students must complete and submit the Plan Modification Form (PDF) to Culture and Language Studies.

To graduate with the APPLS minor, students must also declare the minor on their Application to Graduate form.