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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

LING2390 Language Acquisition

20 creditsClass Size: 18

Module manager: Valentina Brunetto

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

Students are required to have completed one of the following modules, or equivalent:
- MODL1060 Language: Structure and Sound
- ENGL1021 Analysing English
- LING2130 Psycholinguistics
Students who have not completed MODL1060 Language: Structure and Sound should be prepared to do some additional reading to familiarise themselves with linguistic concepts built on in this module. Chapters 1 to 6 of Genetti’s How languages work: An introduction to language and linguistics (Cambridge University Press, 2014) are a good starting point.

This module is mutually exclusive with

LING3190Language Acquisition

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Language acquisition is a fascinating manifestation of the human condition, and it has generated a lot of interest and debates in the research community as well as the general public. This module will introduce students to the leading questions of language acquisition research, by surveying seminal and cutting-edge studies and evaluating their implications for current debates. Focusing on the evidence available and on the methods used to find that evidence, the module explores a number of key question such as how babies start making sense of the language around them, how they acquire words and the structure of language, and how cognitive development interacts with language development. Half of the module is dedicated to bilingual first language acquisition and second language acquisition in children and adults. The focus is on experimental evidence, enabling students to gain a good understanding of the principles of research design, as well as an ability to evaluate results critically. Students are expected to have been introduced to linguistics and language acquisition on a Level 1 or 2 module in linguistics or English language before enrolling on this module.


The module aims to:
(1) familiarise students with the key concepts and research question in language acquisition
(2) survey important findings in language acquisition research
(3) introduce students to the key experimental methodologies used in language acquisition research
(4) develop students' analytical skills through practical analyses of data
(5) develop students' critical thinking through the discussion of research papers
(6) develop students' research skills through the review of studies and the creation of an experimental design

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
(1) demonstrate a broad understanding of the terminology, concepts, information, practical competencies and techniques used in language acquisition research
(2) understand the importance of language acquisition research in linguistic theory in general
(3) critically analyse aspects of experimental design and methodology used in language acquisition research, to analyse its data, and to select such data to illustrate a point under discussion, all using appropriate technical terms
(4) read and show critical awareness of the literature in scientific journals (with guidance)
(5) demonstrate a basic understanding of the relationship between theory and data in language acquisition research
(6) demonstrate a basic understanding of the competitive nature of opposing theories, and to be able to assess the contribution of evidence to conflicting claims


This module focuses on language acquisition in three types of population: children acquiring their mother-tongue, children acquiring more than one language, and children/adults acquiring a second language. The topics covered include, among others: the early apprehension of language by infants, the acquisition of various aspects of language competence (morphology, syntax, semantics), the effect of language processing on the acquisition process, and a discussion of theoretical frameworks in language acquisition research. The lectures are complemented by seminars which enable students to explore in more depth the issues discussed in the course and prepare them for the coursework assignment. The seminars are based on student-led presentations of seminal papers and will raise students’ awareness of methodological issues. Data analysis exercises will feed into lectures and seminars.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are expected to devote 180 hours of private study time to this module, with the following suggested breakdown:
- Reading preparation for lectures and seminars: (20x3=) 60 hours
- Preparation for coursework assignment: 60 hours
- Preparation for exam: 60 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Monitoring of student progress and formative feedback provision take place through written feedback on the coursework assignment (returned before the exam), as part of discussions in the seminars, and based on the student presentations during the seminars.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Research Proposal1,500-word research proposal50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

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

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment48 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

This exam may be replaced by an alternative assessment administered online

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:25:36


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