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Psycholinguistic Approaches to Second Language Acquisition - LAN00072M

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  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Heather Marsden
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Related modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

Psycholinguistic research into second language acquisition asks questions about how a second language is processed, in terms of comprehension and production, and in terms of both spoken and written language. Of key interest are questions about the roles played by a speaker's first language, by working memory, and - in the context of classroom-based learning - by language instruction, in second language production/comprehension. This module will:

  • introduce psycholinguistic approaches to the study of second language acquisition through reading and discussion of primary research articles. Second language acquisition will be understood in its broadest sense, so readings may cover simultaneous bilingualism, sequential bilingualism, and multilingualism;
  • familiarize students with a variety of psycholinguistic research methods used to study second language acquisition, including self-paced listening/reading, cross-modal priming, and eye-tracking. A range of aspects of second language knowledge will be covered, including at least three of syntax, semantics, phonology, speech perception, vocabulary, literacy;
  • develop students' understanding of the key elements of good research design and informative presentation of results, including reporting of statistics, within psycholinguistic research.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • understand key questions that motivate psycholinguistic research into second language acquisition;
  • explain a variety of psycholinguistic research techniques, including knowing which techniques are appropriate to what kind of research question;
  • understand the reporting of results, including statistical data, in a psycholinguistic study and be able to evaluate the effectiveness of different ways of presenting results;
  • write a proposal for a psycholinguistic investigation of second language acquisition.


Task Length % of module mark
Summative Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Summative Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback will be provided within 20 working days of submission of the work.

Indicative reading

A set of primary research papers will be assigned.

In addition, the following textbook is recommended:

  • Jegerski, J., & VanPatten, B. (eds.). 2014. Research Methods in Second Language Psycholinguistics. New York/Abingdon: Routledge.

Suggestions for optional reading before the module starts:

1. As a general introduction to the topic:

  • VanPatten, B. 2014. The psycholinguistics of SLA. Chapter 1 in J. Jegerski and B. VanPatten (eds.) Research Methods in Second Language Psycholinguistics. New York/Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 1-19.

2. To gain familiarity with two early, influential papers in L2 processing research:

  • Clahsen, H., & Felser, C. (2006). Grammatical processing in language learners. Applied psycholinguistics, 27(1), 3-42.
  • Kroll, J. F., & Stewart, E. (1994). Category interference in translation and picture naming: Evidence for asymmetric connections between bilingual memory representations. Journal of memory and language, 33(2), 149-174.

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.