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LING6024 Language Learning

Module Overview

Language acquisition, including bilingual acquisition and language development in exceptional circumstances.

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.
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.
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.


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

In a traditional module, contact time would typically be with materials, tutor, and fellow participants, all in a classroom setting. Online learning is self-instructional learning and there are no classes as such. A large degree of responsibility for and control over your learning rests with you. However, it is important to help you to structure your study time and we do this through two important online forms of contact or interaction. Tasks and feedback which help you to preview, focus, check on or explore issues related to your independent study reading are one form of possible contact time, taking up 3 hours a week. There will also be a 2 hour weekly asynchronous forum of discussion, presentation and interaction tasks, moderated by tutors and providing important opportunities for interaction with tutors and peers.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Online tutor led discussion forums • Interactive tasks in topic learning objects • Presentations and lectures via podcasts/audio/video files • Synchronous chat/small group discussions Learning activities include • Extensive reading of assigned texts, in preparation for weekly seminars • Analysis of data and presentation of analyses, in workshop sessions • Accessing online resources • Participating in online forums • Individual assembly of bibliography and private study, in preparation for major written assignment.

Independent Study75
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

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

Romaine, S (1994). Bilingualism. 

Lightbown P. & Spada, N (2006). How Languages Are Learned. 

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

Ellis, R (1997). Second Language Acquisition. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (5000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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