Module Catalogue 2024/25

SEL2235 : CHiLD: Current Hypotheses in Language Development

SEL2235 : CHiLD: Current Hypotheses in Language Development

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Emma Nguyen
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Rebecca Woods
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Code Title
SEL1027Introduction to the Structure of Language 1: Phonetics, Phonology & Morphology
SEL1028Introduction to Language Structure 2: Syntax, semantics and pragmatics
Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



Language is an incredibly complex system of knowledge. Not only are there multiple levels of representation - sounds and words and phrases and whole utterances and meanings - but within a given level, even simple forms can be derived from multiple interacting pieces of knowledge. Yet as speakers of any given language, we are often blissfully unaware of how much we need to know in order to be able to communicate with language.

One of the most striking things about language is that all typically-developing children learn their native language flawlessly, especially when compared to adults trying to accomplish the same task. This is true despite adults' superior cognitive skills. Children of the world seem somehow suited for language acquisition in a way that adult humans - and other animals - are not.

In this module, we survey the broad topic of language acquisition, focusing not only on children's developmental trajectory, but also on what knowledge of language is, how language acquisition relates to cognition in general, and acquisition of language by speakers with sensory or cognitive deficits.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will cover topics including, but not limited to, the following:
- Theoretical approaches to child language acquisition and development
- Methods for studying children’s language acquisition and knowledge
- Linguistic developmental milestones and major empirical discoveries in the field of child language acquisition

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of this module, it is anticipated that you will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the theories, sources, and interpretations of human language acquisition behavior at the individual level.
- Demonstrate an understanding of contemporary and historical perspectives on human language acquisition behavior.
- Understand and explain the scientific/interpretive methods used in (i) the acquisition of knowledge about human language learning behavior and (ii) the testing of competing theories about human language acquisition.
- Critically evaluate methods, findings, and conclusions in the research literature on human language acquisition behavior.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of this module, you will have developed the following skills:
1. Ability to understand and evaluate theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches to studying language acquisition in children
2. Ability to synthesize and critique research articles
3. Ability to recognise research questions and hypotheses and consider how they be put to empirical test

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion235:0070:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading137:0037:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study160:0060:00N/A
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
SEL8696ToDLR: Topics on Developmental Linguistics Research
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used, primarily, to impart subject content and provide a continuous point of contact between the module teaching team and all students throughout the module. Lectures focus on growing students’ knowledge base in linguistics and introducing students to new methods and approaches to language study.

Small-group teaching sessions, also known as seminars, are used to consolidate students’ understanding of the lecture and reading materials and to develop students’ skills in making sense of linguistic data, understanding academic writing and framing language investigations.

Guided independent study is used for the preparation of seminar exercises as well as for the preparation and completion of assignments.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601M60In-person exam to objectively test student understanding of foundational notions and emipirical discoveries in Child Language Acquisition.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1A40Abstracts written exercise: Students will write two conference-level abstracts distilling two linguistic studies reporting on child language acquisition. 1000 words or equivalent
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The midterm assignment will measure students' understanding of foundational concepts and empirical discoveries presented during the first half of the module. Students will thus be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the theories, sources, and interpretations of human language acquisition behavior at the individual level.

The final assignment will provide students with the opportunity to read, dissect, and present scientific research in a condensed format. Students will be able to thereby develop their writing skills as well expand their knowledge of recent empirical studies in child language acquisition.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2024 academic year.

In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described.

Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2025/26 entry will be published here in early-April 2025. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.