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LING6005 Second Language Learning

Module Overview

This module introduces the different theoretical approaches which have been adopted for studying the acquisition of language, and examines and assesses current theories of first and second language acquisition in the light of empirical evidence.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• provide an insight into the processes involved in the acquisition of language; • Introduce the different theoretical approaches which have been adopted for studying language; • Examine and assess current theories of first and second language acquisition in the light of empirical evidence.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • key theoretical constructs in language learning theory;
  • the major theoretical perspectives on second language acquisition, and be able to compare and contrast them;
  • different approaches to the empirical analysis of learner language, from a variety of theoretical perspectives;
  • the implications of different theoretical positions for classroom language learning and teaching.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • compare and evaluate current theories of first and second language acquisition
  • review and evaluate empirical research in the field, and assess how far it confirms/ disconfirms particular learning theories
  • carry out small scale analyses of child language and second language learner data, from a variety of theoretical perspectives
  • evaluate language instruction in the light of developments in language learning theory.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Plan and produce an extended academic paper, using current primary research literature;
  • analyse authentic data and communicate your analysis orally, in discussion and in formal presentations;
  • identify, select and draw upon a wide range of reference resources, printed and electronic;
  • develop and maintain a personal bibliography;
  • use information technology appropriately to support oral presentations and produce written reports


First language acquisition, including bilingual acquisition and language development in exceptional circumstances (e.g. deaf children, William Syndrome children etc.) Second language acquisition, giving particular focus to the following issues: • Similarities and differences between first and second language acquisition • the role of the first language in the second language acquisition process • the role played by Universal Grammar • the role played by cognitive mechanisms • the role played by social factors • the role played by individual differences • variability and incompleteness • the acquisition of grammar and of vocabulary.

Special Features

Up to date knowledge and understanding of major theories in the field will be developed through private study, through participation in tutor led seminars and through the major written assignment. Your subject specific data analysis skills and some transferable skills (oral presentation, group work, IT skills) will be developed through workshop activities. Other transferable skills will be developed through the major assignment.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Tutor led seminars; • Student led workshops; • Virtual learning environment (Blackboard site); • Individual tutorials to support assignment/ project planning. Learning activities include • Extensive reading of assigned texts, in preparation for weekly seminars • Analysis of data and presentation of analyses, in workshop sessions • Individual assembly of bibliography and private study, in preparation for major written assignment.

Independent Study114
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

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

Ellis, R (1997). Second Language Acquisition. 

Ellis, R and Barkhuizen, G (2004). Analysing Learner Language. 

Lightbown P. & Spada N (1993). How Languages Are Learned. 

Romaine, S. (1989). Bilingualism. 

Foster-Cohen, S (1999). An Introduction to Child Language Development. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 80%
Presentation 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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