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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

LING5290M Second Language Acquisition

30 creditsClass Size: 24

Module manager: Valentina Brunetto

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20


LING5410MFoundations of Syntax

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the study of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research. We survey and evaluate the most important theories, look at significant research findings, discuss experimental designs. Students are shown how to formulate research hypotheses and design experiments to test them adequately. Critical reading of the literature will inform the lectures and seminars. Topics covered include SLA theories, the role of the native language and the role of Universal Grammar. This module gives students an insight into how language is acquired and how language works. It should enable students to develop their analytical skills, their ability to think critically and express their ideas clearly, as well as their ability to conduct sound research.


This module aims to:
1. provide an introduction to current research on second language acquisition through the main theories and important research findings, especially focusing on the part of second language acquisition thought to be constrained by principles of Universal Grammar
2. provide students with the opportunity to critically evaluate theoretical models and hypotheses by applying them to the analysis of data from second language learners
3. allow students to learn relevant methodological and practical aspects of experimental design

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. demonstrate a coherent and detailed understanding of the terminology, concepts, information, practical competencies and techniques used in language acquisition research
2. understand the importance of second language acquisition research in linguistic theory in general
3. critically analyse aspects of experimental design and methodology used in second language acquisition research
4. read and show critical awareness of the literature in scientific journals
5. identify and motivate a valid research question, translate it into a testable hypothesis, and sketch an appropriate research design to test that hypothesis
6. demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between theory and data in second language acquisition research, and the importance of a theory's explanatory power
7. demonstrate an understanding of the competitive nature of opposing theories, and to be able to assess the contribution of evidence to conflicting claims


This module consists in 10 lectures, 10 workshops and 10 seminars (some of them based on self-study, with on-line guidance). Topics covered include SLA theories, the role of the native language, the role of Universal Grammar, age factors, the role of the input, and the acquisition of syntax and morphology.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours270.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Students are expected to devote 270 hours of private study time to this module, with the following suggested breakdown:
- 10 hours reading per week = 100 hours
- 5 hours per week to prepare for seminars = 50 hours
- 20 hours of participation in on-line seminars
- 100 hours of preparation for assessment

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students are encouraged to participate actively in the seminars, where exercises are discussed in detail. Exercise model answers are provided for self-monitoring of progress. Students are able to complete a mock research design task, on which they receive feedback before they submit the formally assessed research design.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4,000 words70.00
Research Proposal2,000 words30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 04/10/2018


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