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SEL2086 : Introduction to Child and Adult Language Acquisition

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Cristina Dye
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To provide students with an introduction to the main theories, questions, methods of investigation, and discoveries in the two fields of a) child language development and b) adult second language acquisition.

Outline Of Syllabus

Part I Child language development
Theoretical questions and perspectives on child language
What needs to be acquired and the challenges facing the child
How can we investigate child language
Brain and language development
Role of nurture in language development

Part II Second language acquisition
Theoretical perspectives on second language acquisition
The empirical study of interlanguage
L1 influence
Acquisition of morphosytax/syntax
The critical period
Acquisition of phonology
Individual differences
Social context

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion145:0045:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading168:0068:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudySkills practice110:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity120:0020:00inc. 10 hours directed groupwork
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study124:0024:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will present and explain theoretical frameworks, methodologies, and empirical discoveries, while the workshops will a) reinforce the lectures, b) provide students with opportunities to participate in classroom debates based on assigned readings, and c) support students in analysing (in smaller teams) a small dataset for the second language acquisition part of the module. Students will be expected to read assigned material in advance of the lectures and seminars. Private study time will be devoted to preparatory reading for both lectures and seminars.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination991M50Mid-module 48-hour take-home exam to objectively test student understanding of foundational notions in child language before Part 2.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Poster1M20The team poster presents an analysis of second language acquisition data on the acquisition of morphosyntax/syntax
Essay1A30A 2000-word essay on the acquisition of phonology
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Assessed by an examination, seminar participation, one oral presentation on analysis of second language data (morphosyntax/syntax or phonology) and an individual data analysis exercise (on the linguistic domain not selected for the group presentation).

Written Examination
The midterm exam measures understanding of foundational concepts and facts presented during the first half (child language development) of this introductory module.

Seminar participation(professional skills assessment)
Participation takes a variety of forms, from contributing ideas to a discussion to asking the seminar leader a question, to giving a single-word answer (but necessarily require regular attendance).

The team poster involves students in gaining/honing the skills they will need for their essays. Both
dvelop students' skills in analysis of data from corpora such as TalkBank or from YouTube videos. Students receive feedback from posters prior to submitting the essay. These assignments give students skills and ideas for further work in second language acquisition, e.g. on an extended study or dissertation and for the Stage 3 module, SEL3012, for which students have to design their own study and collect their own data. The two essays are on different domains of language: phonology and morphosyntax/syntax. This ensures that students gain deeper knowledge in both L2 morphosyntax/syntax and phonology. The essay also requires them to consider, in short answer form, how they would incorporate into a hypothetical study the variables presented in the Part 2 lectures and discussed in the seminars.

Study abroad assessment: same

Reading Lists