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Teaching & Learning Language - EDU00043M

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Bimali Indrarathne
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21
B Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

  • To improve your understanding about different language learning theories and their (potential) implications for language teaching.

  • To provide an overview of how approaches to second and foreign language teaching have evolved over the last few decades.

  • To enable you to develop informed opinions about the challenges and tensions involved in language teaching practice, both generally and in your own context.

  • To enable you to develop a critical appreciation of research in language teaching and learning.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete the module successfully should:

  • Understand the main recent ideas about language teaching and learning, plus their rationale;

  • Be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these language teaching ideas, in terms of a) the main assumptions underlying them b) the theories of learning underpinning them c) the research evidence which is related to them d) their practical implications for the classroom;

  • Be able to assess the relevance of issues covered in the module to their own teaching situation.

Academic and graduate skills

  • Engage critically with published work, particularly journal papers

  • Formulate critical and balanced arguments orally and in writing

  • Participate in group work and problem-solving activities

  • Undertake and report appropriately short, empirical data collection and analysis work

  • Demonstrate effective planning and time management

  • Word-process, manage files, use e-mail, VLE and the Web.

Module content

The module will comprise nine sessions, involving presentations by the tutor, group discussions and small-group activities. The handouts will be given out in advance, and students will be expected to read them before each session. Students will be required to participate in activities such as group discussions and pair work, and may be asked to make short presentations at times. Preparatory reading for the following session will be given out at the end of each session.

Course Outline

Week 2 Communicative competence and assessing language competence

Week 3 An introduction to methods of language teaching

Week 4 Exploring methods of language teaching

Week 5 Classroom interaction for teaching and learning

Week 6 Vocabulary teaching and learning

Week 7 Learning strategies

Week 8 Teaching grammar

Week 9 Individual differences and motivation

Week 10 An introduction to Computer-Assisted Language Learning

Indicative course details - (week by week)

Week 2 - Communicative competence and assessing language competence

Fundamental in any discussion of language learning and teaching is defining what we actually mean by ‘language’ – what is it, exactly, we want learners to learn? Building on aspects of the core module, Language for Education from term 1, this session will review how the notion of communicative competence has developed. We will consider several examples of how this has important implications for practical decisions, such as curriculum design and the measures we use to say how well a learner uses the language.

Week 3 - An introduction to methods of language teaching

The session will begin by briefly introducing the concepts of approach and method. Criteria for critically examining approaches and methods of language teaching will then be introduced, with a particular emphasis on the theories of (language) learning which under-pin the different approaches and methods. The session will conclude with a brief introduction to the history of language teaching and the examination of some of the earliest approaches to language teaching.

Week 4 - Exploring methods of language teaching

In this practical session, we will continue to explore the history of language teaching through practical demonstrations of the most significant developments in the field. In week 2, students will be put into groups and each group will be assigned a method of language teaching which they will be asked to demonstrate to the rest of the group in this session. Each of the demonstrations will be followed up with a reflection on the theoretical underpinnings of the method, the roles of teacher and students in the method, and its strengths and limitations, with an emphasis on considering what is worth retaining or developing from the methods discussed.

Week 5 - Classroom interaction for teaching and learning

This session will focus on language classroom interaction. It will begin with an exploration of general patterns of interaction typically observed in the classroom such as initiation-response-follow-up (IRF) sequences. The interaction hypothesis and negotiation of meaning will then be introduced and possible implications for classroom interaction will be discussed. The discussion will particularly focus on the types of error correction associated with IRF sequences and negotiation of meaning.

Week 6 - An introduction to vocabulary teaching and learning

In this practical session, working in groups, based on pre-class readings students will be asked to devise their own checklist for the evaluation of ELT vocabulary materials. Following a discussion of possible criteria for the evaluation of vocabulary materials, students will engage in the critical examination of some ELT vocabulary teaching materials. Suggested improvements will be discussed in light of the findings of research introduced in the pre-class readings. Finally, issues in vocabulary testing will be briefly introduced.

Week 7 - Exploring learning strategies

This session will explore foreign language learning strategies within three broad categories, metacognitive strategies, cognitive strategies, and social and affective strategies. Using examples from research into a specific skill, practical application for the language teacher and the language learner will be examined in further detail.

Week 8 - Teaching grammar

This session will explore what sort of grammar can and should be taught, and the different approaches to teaching it that have been researched in the last couple of decades. The theoretical rationale and practical implications of some of these approaches to teaching and assessment will also be discussed.

Week 9 - Individual differences and motivation

This session will begin by broadly exploring the concept of individual differences and consider a range of individual difference variables that might have an impact on language learning. It will then focus in on one of these variables, namely motivation and critically examine the main theories of motivation which have been proposed in the literature. The session will conclude with a discussion of motivational teaching practices.

Week 10 - An introduction to Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL)

This session will begin by briefly introducing the main developments in CALL. This will be followed by a discussion of approaches to CALL evaluation and research. The session will conclude with a critical examination of the affordances of a range of different technologies which have been proposed for use in language teaching and learning and language testing.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3500 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3500 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

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

Indicative reading

Canale, M. & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics (1): 1–47.

Cazden, C. & Beck. S. (2003). Classroom discourse. In A. Graesser, M.A. Gernsbacher, & S.R. Goldman (Eds.), Handbook of discourse processes (pp. 165- 197). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Chapelle, C. (2013). The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Wiley Blackwell.

Coulthard, M. (1992). Advances in spoken discourse analysis. London: Routledge

Dörnyei, Z. & Ushioda, E. (2011). Teaching and researching motivation. London: Pearson.

Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The psychology of the language learning: Individual differences in second language acquisition. London: Routledge.

Larsen-Freeman, D. (2000). Techniques and principles in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lightbown, P. (2000). Anniversary article: Classroom SLA research and second language teaching. Applied Linguistics, 21, 431-462.

Lightbown, P. N. and Spada, N. (2006). How language are learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Chapters 1 and 2]

Loewen, S. (2005) Focus on form. In Hinkel, E. (Ed.), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning (pp. 576-592). New York; Routledge

Lyster, R. (2007). Learning and Teaching Languages through Content: A Counterbalanced Approach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. [Chapter 4]

Mackey, A. (1999). Input, interaction, and second language development: An empirical study of question formation in ESL. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21(4), 557-587.

Mitchell, R., Myles, F., & Marsden, E. (2012). Second Language Learning Theories. New York: Routledge.

Nation, I.S.P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language, Cambridge. Cambridge University Press

O’Malley, J.M. & Chamot, A.U. (1995). Learning Strategies in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Chapter 5]

Richards, J. C. and Rodgers, T. S. (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schmitt, N. (2008). Instructed second language vocabulary learning. Language Teaching Research, 12(3), 329-363.

Ur, P. (2005). Grammar teaching: Research, theory and practice . In Hinkel, Eli (Ed.) (2005), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning (Vol. 2, pp. 507-522). New York ; Routledge.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.