pictures of different people Ling 212: Second Language Acquisition

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This course provides students with a foundation in second language acquisition research. The course covers issues such as the effect of the age at which a second language is learned on the learner's rate of acquisition and attainment profile, the influence that the first language exerts on the acquisition of a second, the effects of language impairment and loss in second language grammars, and a number of psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic aspects of second language acquisition. Students also gain first-hand experience of second language research through a small-scale study they conduct into an area of second language knowledge. The course provides students with a solid background in SLA theory and training on some of the latest methodological tools in the field.


Option 1 : two 2,500 word assignments (40%) and exam (60%)
Option 2 : dissertation (100%)

At the end of the first term students will be required to write a 2,500 word essay on a topic selected from a number of suggested titles (or one of their own choice when previously agreed on with the lecturer). During the second term the students will carry out group research on topics related to a proposed theme, and they will be assessed individually upon submission of a 2,500 word report on the project. Finally, they will sit an exam in the summer term. Alternatively, students may choose to write an 8,000-10,000 word dissertation based on their research project. More on the course assignments


Students taking this course should have done one or more of the following Part I components: 

  • Linguistics
  • English Language
  • Psychology
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Spanish

General bibliography

  • Archibald, J. (ed.) 2000: Second language acquisition and linguistic theory. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Doughty, C. and M. Long (eds.) 2003: Handbook of second language acquisition. (2nd edition) Oxford: Blackwell. 
  • Ellis, R. 1997: Second Language Acquisition . Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Gass, S. and L. Selinker 2001: Second language acquisition. An introductory course. (2nd edition) Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Hawkins, R. 2001: Second language syntax. A generative introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Herschensohn, J. 2000: The second time round: minimalism and SLA . Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Klein, E.C. and G. Martohardjono (eds.) 1999: The development of second language grammars. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Lightbown, P. and N. Spada 1999: How languages are learned. (2nd edition) Oxford: OUP.
  • MacWhinney, B. 2000: The CHILDES Project: tools for analysing talk. (3rd edition) Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Mitchell, R. and F. Myles 1998: Second language learning theories. London: Arnold.
  • Ritchie, W.C. and T.K. Bhatia (eds.) 1996: Handbook of second language acquisition. San Diego: Academic Press.
  • Skehan, P. 1998: A cognitive approach to language learning . Oxford: OUP.
  • *White, L. 2003:  Second language acquisition and Universal Grammar. (2nd edition) Cambridge: CUP. 
    * Course textbook

Do you need extra help with linguistic theory ? Here are some suggested readings .

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19 October, 2004