The University of Southampton

LANG1016 Second Language Learning: Practice, Pedagogy and Performance

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• To outline the key terms, concepts and issues associated with second language learning. • To examine the main theoretical approaches towards second language learning. • To explore how these approaches have developed and changed over time. • To explore the practical applications of these theoretical approaches through empirical linguistic data. • To examine the ways in which these applications are relevant for teaching/learning situations.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Key concepts and theories in second language learning
  • The significance and impact of these concepts and theories as evidenced through empirical data
  • The significance and impact of these concepts and theories as evidenced through empirical data
  • Evidence for the development and change of second language learning theories
  • The latest research on the subject of second language learning pertaining to their application in the classroom and through the individual learner.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe the variety of issues in the field of second language learning.
  • Explain the key terms and ideas relevant to second language learning.
  • Evaluate critically the theoretical and methodological approaches used by scholars of second language learning.
  • Analyse the ways in which second language learning theories and their applications are relevant for you as a teacher/learner.
  • Interpret critically a variety of primary sources relating to the main themes in second language learning.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Organise and structure material to write or present confidently.
  • Analyse critically primary and secondary material.
  • Participate actively in group discussions and debate.


This module will explore a range of perspectives and approaches to second language learning. The module will begin by asking you to discuss concepts such as ‘theory’, ‘hypothesis’, and ‘variable’ and evaluate how these terms guide us to a better understanding of second language learning. It will then move to a brief historical overview of research in second language learning, and define key terms such as ‘learner’, ‘motivation’, ‘attitudes’, ‘input’, ‘context’ and ‘outcomes’ through a well-known model of second language learning. The module will then focus on five different perspectives of second language learning (Linguistic, Cognitive, Pragmatic, Interactionist and Socio-cultural) examining, first of all, the theoretical basis for these approaches, and then moving on to a series of case studies and empirical data sets centred around such approaches. We will explore the links between each set of data and the theory and evaluate their importance. You will learn to critically analyse various hypotheses related to each theoretical perspective, and to assess the contribution made by each to the field of second language learning. The module is based on the premise that theoretical approaches to second language learning cannot be studied in isolation. Rather, they need to be placed in a wider context, both in relation to each other, and to the second language empirical research, as well as in relation to the practical significance of each theoretical viewpoint. Only then can the relevance of each theoretical perspective be fully appreciated as a complete picture of second language learning.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • A weekly two-hour class incorporating lecture and seminar elements • Lecturer-led examination and discussion of sources Learning activities include: • Participation in group and class discussion • Short oral presentations on primary sources • Optional preparatory reading before each seminar • Optional independent research of additional information and source materials Lecture elements will provide you with general knowledge and understanding about chronology, sources and key concepts. This will be consolidated through readings and seminar discussions of primary and secondary source material. Discussion in seminars will help you to develop your own ideas about a topic, to analyse a range of source material and to articulate a critical argument.

Total study time24

Resources & Reading list

Ellis, R (1997). Second Langage Acquisition. 

Crystal, D (2003). A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. 

Saville Troike, M (2006). Introducing Second Language Acquisition. 

Mitchell, R & Myles, F. (2004). Second Language Learning Theories. 

Ellis, R (2008). The Study of Second Language Acquisition. 

Blue, G & Mitchell, R (eds.). Language and Education. 

Krashen, S. D (1985). The Input Hypothesis: Issues and Implications. 

Doughty, C. J & Long, M. H (eds.) (2003). The Handbook of Second Language Acquisition. 


Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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