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Introduction to Language Acquisition - LAN00008I

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  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Heather Marsden
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2017-18

Related modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2017-18

Module aims

  • 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

Module learning outcomes

  • 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


Task Length % of module mark
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
N/A 20
University - closed examination
Introduction to Language Acquisition
1.5 hours 80

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
University - closed examination
Reassessment: Introduction to Language Acquisition
1.5 hours 100

Module 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

Written feedback to groups provided by end of Week 1, Spring Term.

A 1.5-hour closed exam

Mark on university scale for whole course published in Term 2, Week 6. Exam scripts subsequently available to view (under supervision, by appointment)

Indicative reading

A reading pack of materials will be available for purchase.

Suggestions for reading before the module starts

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.)

This is an accessible and short (for a book!) introduction to child language acquisition.

If you want to read more, the following books provide good background:

Ambridge Ben & Elena V. M. Lieven. 2011. Child language acquisition: contrasting theoretical approaches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

This is a great resource because it compares and contrasts nativist and emergentist research.

Gass, Susan & Larry Selinker. 2008. Second language acquisition: an introductory course. Third edition. New York & London: Routledge.

Chapter 1 gives a good introduction to second language acquisition. If you want to know more, chapters 6 and 7 are the most relevant.

Guasti, Maria Teresa. 2002. Language acquisition: the growth of grammar. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Chapter 1 provides a good introduction to child language acquisition. The following chapters focus on development of the major areas of syntax.

Jette G. Hansen-Edwards & Mary L. Zampini (Eds.) 2008. Phonology and Second Language Acquisition. Amsterdam / Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

This book is the guide to L2 phonology. Chapters 3, 4, 6 and 8 are probably the most relevant

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.