The aim of this module is to:
- Provide an overview of child first language acquisition
- Introduce at least one other topic in language acquisition from among the following: second language acquisition, language acquisition in special populations, psycholinguistics
- Introduce overarching issues in linguistic theory, in the form of competing explanations of language acquisition patterns
- Provide consolidation of Year 1 syntax and phonology skills through application of these skills to language acquisition data
- Develop generic research skills and writing skills through student presentations
By the end of the module the student should:
- Have knowledge of the general course of child language acquisition
- Have knowledge of the key issues in the addtional topic or topics covered on the course (from among second language acquisition, language in special populations, and psycholinguistics)
- Be able to illustrate theoretical debates with specific examples from the acquisition of syntax and phonology
- Gain experience in working in a team to complete a small research project and present the findings
Students must have successfully completed:
- L09C Introduction to phonetics and phonology
- L11C Introduction to syntax
- Weeks 2–5: 3 hours lectures + 1 hour seminar per week
- Week 7: 1 hour lecture on presentation skills + 1 hour library skills workshop + 1 hour seminar
- Week 8: 1 hour seminar
- Weeks 9–10: 3-hour presentation sessions (each student will attend one session, either in Week 9 or Week 10) + 1-hour seminar in Week 9 or Week 10, and 1-hour final lecture in Week 10
This course is divided into two distinct learning periods:
- Weeks 2–5: introduction to key language acquisition topics through lectures
- Weeks 7–10: preparation and presentation of group projects
Weekly seminars will go on throughout the course, with exercises designed to review and develop lecture content, and to provide time for discussion of progress with project work.
A reading pack of materials will be available for purchase.
Suggestions for reading before the module starts
- Ambridge Ben & Elena V. M. Lieven. 2011. Theoretical approaches to grammar acquisition. Chapter 4 in Child language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 144–157. (Available for download via the module VLE site, under ‘reading lists’.)
- O’Grady, William. 2005. Words all in a row. Chapter 4 in How children learn language. Cambridge: CUP. (Available as e-book via the library.)
Also, the introductory chapters of any of the following provide useful background:
- Guasti, Maria Teresa. 2002. Language acquisition: the growth of grammar. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Lust, Barbara C. 2006. Child language: acquisition and growth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Gass, Susan & Larry Selinker. 2008. Second language acquisition: an introductory course. Third edition. New York & London: Routledge.