ALC8026 : Language Learning

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To introduce students to several different theoretical perspectives and related concepts and empirical research prevalent in the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and to show some ways that these perspectives relate to each other.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus is designed so as to provide students with different perspectives within the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA). First they will be introduced to prevalent cognitive/psycholinguistic approaches to SLA and key concepts and theories therein. Once this approach has been examined, students will be introduced to alternative perspectives, with a particular focus on more ‘social’ views that investigate learning and teaching in social interaction. In sessions 8 and 9 students will focus on two important sites of debate: language learning goals and age. They will examine widespread, traditional views on these topics and will then discuss alternative viewpoints, with a view to developing a critical understanding of established ideas.


      Session 1: Module Introduction

‘Cognitive’ Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (SLA)

      Session 2: L earning Vocabulary
      Session 3: L earning Grammar
      Session 4: Communication and Learning Strategies

Alternative Perspectives in SLA

      Session 5: SLA reconceptualized: a social perspective
      Session 6: Sociocultural Theory and SLA
      Session 7: Language learning/teaching in and outside the classroom
      Session 8: Age and Language Learning
      Session 9: Goals of Language Learning
      Session 10: SLA today

      Session 11: Assignment Preparation

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading120:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1111:00111:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

As a deep understanding of various perspectives and debates amongst these perspectives is central to achieving the Learning Outcomes of this module, a range of sites for the presentation of information and discussion is required. Large group lectures are an ideal platform for the presentation of information and the explanation of new ideas to the whole class. Seminars are used as a site for students to more fully develop a deep understanding of these ideas via discussion and clarification with the seminar leaders and other students. A module blog is also used for discussion. Lectures, seminars, the module blog and one-to-one tutorials with the module leader are used for discussion and support for assignments.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Reflective log1M20A reflective diary of 500-600 words (excluding references)
Essay1M80An essay of 3000 words (+/- 10%, excluding references)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

There will be two assessments used for this module:

-       Reflective log. This will be submitted roughly mid-way through the module. For this log, students will describe a recent experience they have had as a language learner, teacher and/or SLA student and relate it to at least one theoretical approach and/or concept in SLA that has been covered in the module to that point. Finally, they will briefly describe at least one empirical study that somehow relates to this experience. This will (1) prompt the students to relate the theoretical and conceptual content of the course to their own personal experience, and (2) allow the module leader to gage the students’ level of understanding and reflection, which will feed into the teaching in lectures and seminars.

-       Essay. There are a choice of titles that relate to the topics covered on the module, incorporating a critical analysis of traditional assumptions in language teaching and learning, discussion of the nature and goals of L2 learning, a discussion of different approaches to Communication and/or Learning Strategies, the application of theories of SLA to classroom practices, and an open question to address any critical site of contention in SLA. Students can, alternatively, choose a topic of their own as long as it is ratified by the module leader a month before the deadline. Titles will be made available soon after the start of the course.

Reading Lists