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Module PPP-4008:
Methods in Lang & Bilingualism

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Gary Oppenheim

Overall aims and purpose

We're born without knowing any particular language, but language quickly becomes so central to our lives that many people have claimed that it would be impossible to think without it. Linguists have long studied languages to understand their abstract logic. But psychologists have also studied language for over a century, using it as a model system to understand how the human mind works, and what representations, processes, and neural substrates underly such complex learned behavior. Most of this research has focused on the simplest case, where a person only knows a single language, but over the past several decades, researchers have started to consider the more challenging case of bilingualism. Bangor has been a center of this movement, so this research methods module is designed to give students the opportunity to learn from active researchers about some of the methods they use in their research.

Methods in Language and Bilingualism is a methodology-focused masters-level module that can count towards many of the masters degrees in the School of Psychology and is required for Bangor’s MA in Bilingualism. This module is also appropriate for students who simply want to use language as a model system for understanding human learning and cognition, but it will especially help budding researchers build their ‘toolboxes’ for designing, conducting, and understanding current laboratory research on mental and neural topics in language processing, with particular focus on bilingualism. Several active researchers will contribute to the module, each introducing some of the methods that they use in their current research. The module will culminate with each student creating an original research proposal that applies their understanding of current research methods to a specific research question.

Course content

Students will learn about a range of experimental research methods that are currently used in the psychological study of language and bilingualism (and a sampling of current theoretical questions), considering experimental design and the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. We'll start with a quick recap of general principles in laboratory experiment design, core theoretical questions, and commonly used behavioural tasks. Then we'll consider specific research approaches in more detail. Capitalising on the expertise we have here at Bangor, approaches typically include: classic measures of adult behaviour (errors, response times, corpora); language acquisition (looking time, assessments); timecourse methods (eyetracking, ERP); location methods (fMRI, neuropsychology); and computational modelling.

Please note that bilingualism research is an interdisciplinary topic that integrates laboratory experiments and language research with the added challenge of using multiple languages. Any student should certainly be able to succeed in this module, but students would benefit from some background in laboratory experimentation and/or the psychological or linguistic study of language.

Assessment Criteria


Adequate answer to the question, largely based on lecture material. No real development of arguments.


Reasonably comprehensive coverage. Well organised and structured. Good understanding of the material.


Comprehensive and accurate coverage of the area. Clarity of argument and expression. Depth of insight into theoretical issues

Learning outcomes

  1. Students will be able to describe practical considerations involved in applying several core methods to research in language and bilingualism

  2. Students will be able to describe how previous work applying several research methods has contributed to key theoretical claims in the study of language and bilingualism.

  3. Students will be able to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the key strengths and key weaknesses of each of the methodologies studied.

  4. Students will be able to critically assess the use of specific methodological approaches to evaluate particular theoretical claims.

  5. Students will be able to apply their understanding of research methods in language and bilingualism to select appropriate methods to address a research question, and describe original studies that they could do using their chosen methods.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Method Report 1 20
Written Research Project Proposal 40
Peer Project Critiques (x2) 10
Brief Oral Project Pre-proposal 10
Method Report 2 20

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Lecture 22
Workshop 22
Private study 156

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Understand the scientific underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
  • Apply multiple perspectives to psychological issues and integrate ideas and findings across the multiple perspectives in psychology.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in written form.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in oral form.
  • Be computer literate for the purpose of processing and disseminating psychological data and information.
  • Retrieve and organise information effectively.
  • Handle primary source material critically.
  • Be sensitive and react appropriately to contextual and interpersonal psychological factors.
  • Use effectively personal planning and project management skills.
  • Work effectively under pressure (time pressure, limited resources, etc) as independent and pragmatic learners.
  • Problem-solve by clarifying questions, considering alternative solutions, making critical judgements, and evaluating outcomes.
  • Reason scientifically and demonstrate the relationship between theory and evidence.
  • Understand and investigate the role of brain function in all human behaviour and experience.
  • Carry out empirical studies by operationalizing research questions, generating hypotheses, collecting data using a variety of methods, analysing data using quantitative and/or qualitative methods, and present and evaluate research findings (under appropriate supervision).
  • Comprehend and use psychological data effectively, demonstrating a systematic knowledge of the application and limitations of various research paradigms and techniques.
  • Employ evidence-based reasoning and examine practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with the use of different methodologies, paradigms and methods of analysis in psychology.
  • Be aware of ethical principles and approval procedures.


Resource implications for students

We do not anticipate any additional costs.

Reading list

Tracking down research articles is a basic skill that any researcher must develop. To provide practice in this skill, we will supply article citations instead of a linked reading list.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: