Accessibility statement

Language Acquisition - LAN00064I

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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: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

In this module you will learn about some of the processes and mechanisms involved in very early first language as well as in later second language acquisition. You will also learn about theories of first and second language acquisition, and you will encounter a range of methods used in language acquisition research, as well as trying some hands-on analysis of language acquisition data.

Related modules

Pre-requisite modules

At least one of the following:

Language & the Mind, Phonetics & Phonology, Morphology & Syntax

Students who have not taken Morphology & Syntax or Phonetics & Phonology must be aware that some knowledge from these modules will be assumed: particularly IPA, and very basic syntactic structure and grammar terms. The module tutors will make self-study materials available to cover those areas.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module will:

  • Provide an overview of child first language acquisition
  • Provide an introduction to key topics in second language acquisition
  • Introduce at least one other topic in language acquisition from among the following: language acquisition in special populations, literacy, language attrition
  • Introduce overarching issues in linguistic and psycholinguistic theory, in the form of competing explanations of language acquisition patterns
  • Provide opportunities for application of Year 1 linguistic and/or psycholinguistic skills to language acquisition data
  • Develop transferable skills (research, communication, data analysis) through a range of seminar and formative activities using language acquisition data and sources

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module you should be able to:

  • understand the general course and characteristics of child language acquisition and adult second language acquisition and key issues in the additional topic or topics covered on the course (language acquisition in special populations, literacy, language attrition)

  • illustrate theoretical debates with specific examples from the acquisition of syntax, morphology, and phonology

  • communicate complex academic information to a lay audience

  • analyse language acquisition data

  • read and understand graphs

  • read research papers in first and second language acquisition

Module content

The module will cover topic including:

  • Theories of language acquisition

  • Critical period hypothesis

  • First language phonological development

  • Issues in second language acquisition

  • Implicit and explicit learning in second language acquisition


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 40
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Language Acquisition
4 hours 60

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 40
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Language Acquisition
4 hours 60

Module feedback

Formative assessment

Feedback grid relating to criteria assessed in the summative data-based essay

Summative essay

Annotation on submitted work within university mandated time limit


Annotation on submitted work within university mandated time limit

Indicative reading

Escudero, P., Sisinni, B., & Grimaldi, M. (2014). The effect of vowel inventory and acoustic properties in Salento Italian learners of Southern British English vowels. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 135(3), 1577-1584.

Flege, J. E. (2019). A non-critical period for second language learning. In A. M. Nyvad, M. Hejná, A. Højen, A. B. Jespersen & M. H. Sørensen (eds.) A sound approach to language matters: In honor of Ocke-Schwen Bohn. Aarhus University. 501-541.

Geers, A. E., Mitchell, C. M., Warner-Czyz, A., Wang, N-Y, Eisenberg, L. S., the CDaCI Investigative Team. (2017). Early sign language exposure and cochlear implantation benefits. Pediatrics, 140(1), 1-9.

Golinkoff, R. M., Hoff, E., Rowe, M. L., Tamis-LeMonda, C. S., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2019). Language Matters: Denying the Existence of the 30-Million-Word Gap Has Serious Consequences [Review of Language Matters: Denying the Existence of the 30-Million-Word Gap Has Serious Consequences]. Child Development, 90(3), 985–992.

Hall, W. C. (2017). What you don’t know can hurt you: The risk of language deprivation by impairing sign language development in deaf children. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 21, 961-965.

Hummel, K. M. (2014) Theoretical perspectives past and present. Chapter 4 in Introducing second language acquisition (pp. 59–103). Malden MA/Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Sperry, D. E., Sperry, L. L., & Miller, P. J. (2019). Reexamining the Verbal Environments of Children From Different Socioeconomic Backgrounds. Child Development, 90(4), 1303–1318.

Wu, M. J., & Ionin, T. (2022). Does explicit instruction affect L2 linguistic competence? An examination with L2 acquisition of English inverse scope. Second Language Research, 38(3), 607-637.

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.