Introduction to language acquisition



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 transferrable skills (research, communication, teamworking) 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

Information for visiting students: You should be familiar with basic syntactic terminology (NP, VP, subject, object, embedded clause, etc), and also with basic phonetic description and IPA.



Contact hours

  • Weeks 2–5: 3 hours lectures + 1 hour seminar per week
  • Week 4: presentation research workshop (in addition to lectures and seminar)
  • Week 8: 1 hour seminar
  • Weeks 9–10: 2-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

A library skills workshop will also be scheduled as part of this module.

Teaching programme

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.

Teaching materials

A reading pack of materials will be available for purchase.

Assessment and feedback

Assessment and feedback

Feedback on formative work

  • A project plan due noon on Thursday, Week 6.
    • Written comments provided on all plans.
  • Review quizzes available on the module VLE site.
    • Automatic feedback provided through the VLE.

Summative assessment and feedback

  • Group presentation
    • Autumn Term, Week 9 or 10
    • Weight: 20%
    • Written feedback to groups provided by end of Week 1, Spring Term.
  • A 1.5-hour closed exam
    • Spring Term, Week 1
    • Weight: 80%
    • Mark on university scale for whole course published in Term 2, Week 6. Exam scripts subsequently available to view (under supervision, by appointment)

About this module

  • Module name
    Introduction to language acquisition
  • Course code
    L08I (LAN00008I)
  • Teacher 
    Kremena Koleva
  • Term(s) taught
  • Credits