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The University of Southampton
Lifelong Learning

Beyond the Theory of Second Language Learning

Practice, Pedagogy and Performance

Learning a language

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.

Course date/time:

Date: Wednesday evenings, starting 3rd October 2012
Time: 6 - 8 pm
Duration: 12 meetings


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