|A||Spring Term 2020-21|
To familiarise students with key topics, concepts, findings and theories in work on second language learning and development
To critically evaluate their relevance and implications for language education
To develop a good understanding of key areas and issues discussed in work on second language learning and development
To understand the main methods used to investigate second language learning and development
To be able to read and critically evaluate original studies on key topics in second language research
To be able to evaluate the relevance of major research findings for second language learning and instruction, and make informed decisions regarding language teaching methodologies and practice
To be able to carry out small scale second language investigations for their dissertation
Academic and graduate skills
Engage critically with academic and language teaching publications
Formulate critical and balanced arguments orally and in writing
Participate in groupwork and problem-solving activities
Undertake and report appropriately short, empirical data collection and analysis work
Demonstrate effective planning and time management
Word-process, use a concordancer, manage files, use e-mail, VLE and the Web
Course Details - (week by week)
Week 2 - Key issues in second language acquisition theory and research
This session will sketch the key issues discussed in second language acquisition theory and research and situate these in relation to SLA’s ‘feeder’ disciplines of language teaching, linguistics, child language acquisition and psychology.
Week 3 - Logical problem of language acquisition: Nativist and Emergentist approaches
Are humans biologically endowed with a specialised language faculty? Or can the statistical properties of language and general cognition explain acquisition? In this session we will examine the evidence for two major (and opposing) explanations of how a language learner comes to know properties of language that go far beyond the input.
Week 4 - The role of age in second language learning: The Critical Period Hypothesis
This session focuses on how the age of onset determines the rate and the final outcome of language learning. We will discuss questions including whether second language learners can ever become entirely nativelike, and whether younger is always necessarily better.
Week 5 - The role of transfer in second language learning
This session address the question of what constraints (if any) a first language places on the learning of a second language. We will examine negative and positive consequences of different L1 backgrounds on different aspects of L2 learning.
Week 6 - The role of input, output and interaction in second language development
Is input necessary in SLA, and how much of it do we need? Is it sufficient? Does ‘input enhancement’ enhance language learning? What difference, if any, do interaction and output make? We turn to a rich body of both experimental and classroom SLA research to explore these questions.
Week 7 - The role of instruction and feedback in second language grammar development
In this session, the focus will be on the debate concerning the effectiveness of L2 grammar instruction. Can it work in principle? And if so, what is the comparative effectiveness of different types of instruction?
Week 8 - L2 vocabulary learning: incidental and intentional
What do we know when we know a word? How is the bilingual mental lexicon organised? How do we learn new words? How difficult is it to learn a new word? How many words do L2 learners need to know? These are some of the questions that this session will explore.
Week 9 - Individual cognitive differences and second language learning
This session takes a cognitive perspective on SLA and explores the role of working memory and the role of individual differences in working memory capacity for second language learning.
Week 10 - Overview of the module and assignment preparation
In this session we’ll pull together various threads covered in the module. The students will also have a chance to discuss various issues related to their assignments.
|Task||Length||% of module mark|
The assessment for this module has a 3,500 word length.
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You will receive feedback in a range of ways throughout this module. This will include oral feedback in class, responses to posts on the VLE discussion board and written comments on work. You will have the chance to obtain feedback on your writing during the module, and you will have a short one-to-one meeting with a module tutor to discuss assessments.
You will be provided physical written feedback on assignment report sheets as well as them being readily available on the VLE. The feedback is returned to students in line with university policy. Please check the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback for more information.
Doughty, C. & Long, M. (2003). The handbook of second language acquisition. Oxford: Blackwell.
Gass, S. & Selinker, L (2001). Second language acquisition: An introductory course (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Lightbown, P., & Spada, N. (1999). How languages are learned. Revised edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mackey, A. & Gass, S. (2005). Second language research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Marsden, E., Mitchell, R., & Myles, F. (2013). Second language learning theories. London: Routledge.
Ortega, L. (2014). Understanding second language acquisition. London: Routledge.