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SEL3012 : Immigrant Second Language & Literacy Acquisition

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Martha Young-Scholten
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module focuses on the population primarily of adolescent and adult but also child second language learners who acquire a new language as the result of immigration. The module looks at how these differ from well-studied foreign language learners whose main source of input is the classroom. Here the social factors which affect learners' acquisition are considered.Issues covered include L1 influence and use of linguistic mechanisms across the lifespan regarding acquisition of morphosyntax/syntax, phonology and the lexicon, the development of literacy, particularly by those who immigrate without formal schooling and native language attrition as the result of bilingual language use.

Outline Of Syllabus

Overview of the module
The context: immigrants in the UK and elsewhere and ESOL provision; the two SLA paradigms and their relation to immigrants’ language and literacy

Part I: Language
2.       Linguistic competence (SEL2086 review: morphosyntax, syntax, phonology, the lexicon
3.       Research on adult immigrants’ morphosyntax, syntax, phonology, the lexicon
4.       Cognitive factors: metalinguistic knowledge; working memory
5.       Procedural/implicit/acquired knowledge vs. declarative/explicit/learned
•       Form four-to-six person teams; inventory of what students already know about immigrants in
Newcastle, in the UK and elsewhere
•       Oral reports from teams on their proposed learner population
•       Data analysis exercise focusing on identifying learned and formulaic language
•       Learned vs. acquired linguistic knowledge and tasks for data collection

Part II: Literacy
6.       We only learn to read once: educated adults’ L2 reading; children’s biliteracy
7.       Student presentations: Knowledge of a different writing system
8.       Children’s and low-educated adults’ decoding and comprehension development
9.       Extensive reading and the Simply Cracking Good Stories project
10.       Student presentations: the learner population and each student’s essay topic
•       Trying to read in unknown languages
•       Beginning decoding: Trying out the Dutch or the Finnish DigLin software
•       Evaluation of children’s early readers vs. books for beginning adults
•       Writing Simply Cracking Good Stories (two seminars)
•       In place of seminars, individual meetings with students on their essays

Part III: Language and Literacy
11.       The Great Divide
12.       Working memory and processing
•       Students present their study results for feedback from peers (penultimate week)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion132:0032:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading140:0040:00N/A
Guided Independent StudySkills practice110:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity144:0044:00inc. 10 hours directed groupwork
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study138:0038:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures provide extensive background, much of which students will require in writing their essays.
Seminars (workshops) impart skills required to work as a team and individually on an essay.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A703,000 word essay
Report2M15A team-based PowerPoint presentation on one of the writing systems of the world. Approx 6.5 mins long
Report2M15PowerPoint on the learner population located and (by each individual) a slide on what they intend to pursue for their essay. 6.5min
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students will refine their skills in analysing data, and add to their set of skills collecting their own data. They will do so while working in a group, thus mirroring the way in which researchers work. They will then write individual essays based on their team's study. This builds on SEL2086, which requires students only to work with data, but not necessarily to have collected it.

Reading Lists