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Introduction to Language Acquisition - LAN00008I

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  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Tamar Keren-Portnoy
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Related modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23

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
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Introduction to Language Acquisition
8 hours 80
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
N/A 20

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Reassessment: Introduction to Language Acquisition
8 hours 100

Module feedback

Feedback on formative work

Plan for literature search for presentation due end of Week 5. Written comments provided on plans.

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 24-hour online exam

Mark on university scale for whole course published in 25 working days.

Indicative reading

These are the required readings on the module:

Asher, James J. & Ramiro García. (1969). The optimal age to learn a foreign language. The Modern Language Journal, 53, 334–341.

Bonvillian, J. D., Orlansky, M. D. & Novack, L. L. (1983). Developmental milestones: Sign language acquisition and motor development. Child Development, 54, 1435-1445.

Braine, M. D. S. (1963). The ontogeny of English phrase structure: The first phase. Language, 39, 1-13.

Clark, E. V. (2016). First language acquisition. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Chapter 7: First combinations, first constructions.

Flege, James E. (2009). Give input a chance! In Piske, Thorsten & Young-Scholten, Martha (eds.) Input matters in SLA. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. 175–190.

Kirk, E., Howlett, N., Pine, K. J. & Fletcher, B (C). 2013. To Sign or Not to Sign? The impact of encouraging infants to gesture on infant language and maternal mind-mindedness. Child Development, 84(2), 574–590.

Langdridge, D. & Hagger-Johnson, G. (2013). Introduction to research methods and data analysis in psychology (3rd ed.). Harlow: Pearson Prentice Hall. (Specific pages are indicated in the Module Information Sheet).

McCune, L., & Vihman, M. M. (2001). Early phonetic and lexical development: A productivity approach. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 44, 670–684.

Sperry, D. E., Sperry, L. L., Miller, P. J. (In press). Reexamining the verbal environments of children from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Child Development.

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.