Child Language Acquisition
Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media
20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Dr Eirini Sanoudaki
Overall aims and purpose
This module provides an overview of how languages are learned. The main objective is to introduce students to central questions in language acquisition research (e.g., How do we learn the meaning of words? What are the advantages of bringing up a child bilingually?) The focus will be on first language acquisition. We will cover topics such as word learning, syntactic development, language production, and normal vs. atypical development. We will also examine a variety of theoretical positions, including nativist and empiricist accounts of language acquisition, and a range of empirical approaches used to test these positions.
• to develop students’ understanding of the processes involved in language acquisition.
• to enhance students’ appreciation of the various theoretical accounts of language acquisition.
• to enhance students’ awareness of the implications of the research findings for linguistic theory.
• to introduce students to the research techniques used in this area of study.
Course content This module provides an introduction to the study of language development. There are three goals for this course. The first goal is to introduce students to key findings and central debates in the study of language development. The second goal is to provide students with the tools to critically examine the existing literature. The third goal is to provide hands-on experience and training in how to conduct research on language development. The lectures will provide students with the “big picture”, i.e. central topics are summarized, important studies discussed and open questions outlined. In the tutorials, students discuss key studies in detail and reflect on methodologies, results and implications.
The following topics will be covered:
1. Early language development
2. Phonological development
3. First language acquisition: Syntactic development
4. Multilingual Acquisition
5. Theories of language development: Constructivist and mentalist approaches
6. Bilingual development
7. Language disorders
8. Developmental neurolinguistics
The answer must be highly focused and well-structured.
The answer must show comprehensive knowledge and detailed understanding.
The answer must show some original interpretation, new links between topics and/or a new approach to a problem.
The answer must show evidence of extensive background study using primary sources.
The answer must address the question.
The answer must show a basic knowledge and understanding of the relevant key areas and principles of the foundational theories, constructs and methodologies of Linguistics.
The student must show evidence of being able to apply the principles to the analysis of language and linguistic examples and/or data.
The answer must show evidence of some background study.
The answer must be focussed and structured.
The answer must show a better-than-average standard of knowledge and understanding of the foundational theories, constructs and methodologies of Linguistics.
The linguistic examples used in the answer may be based upon examples from the literature but must also include original examples.
The answer must show evidence of background study with at least some from primary sources.
Students will know what the central questions in the study of language development are to an advanced level
Students will know how to critically evaluate empirical studies in a sophisticated way
Students will know how to set up and execute a study to investigate language development
Students will understand what research methods are commonly used in the study of language development to an advanced standard
Students will be able to present and discuss key facts, concepts, ideas and approaches relating to the study of language development in a sophisticated way
Teaching and Learning Strategy
One 2-hour lecture per week (over 11 teaching weeks)
One 1-hour seminar per fortnight (over 11 teaching weeks)
In their own time, students will be expected to do required readings for each class, do further research/reading on the topics and prepare assignments.
- Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
- 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
- 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.
- Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
- 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
- Research skills - students will be able to undertake advanced independent research, involving formulating a research question, identifying and deploying appropriate linguistic methodology (theoretical or empirical), data collection techniques (experimental or field-based), as well as the selection and application of appropriate theoretical frameworks in order to adequately analyse and interpret data.
- Writing & scholarly conventions - students will be able to present data, argumentation, findings and references in written form in keeping with the conventions current in language science and English language studies to an advanced standard.
- Oral presentation skills & scholarly conventions - students will be able to present data, argumentation, findings and references in oral form in keeping with the conventions current in language science and English language studies, to an advanced level.
- Analysis & interpretation skills - students will be able to analyse and interpret data accurately and to draw appropriate conclusions based on the application of appropriate analytic and theoretical frameworks available in linguistics and English language studies.
- Evaluation & reflection - students will be able to critically evaluate to an advanced standard a particular position, viewpoint or argument in relation to a specific area of investigation. They will be able to reflect on the efficacy of a particular approach, practice or performance, and moderate these as a consequence in order to achieve specific goals.
- Independent investigation - students will develop the ability to plan, design and execute a highly original and significant piece of research or inquiry, either independently or as a member of a team in order to discover a specific solution to an outstanding issue or question through searching out and synthesising written, visual and oral information. Students will also develop skills of independent investigation, including interacting with peers and participants/informants.
- Learning to learn - students will learn to reflect upon, modify and improve their learning strategies
- Effective communication - students will develop the ability to communicate effectively, appropriately and confidently, in a range of contexts, to different audience types, and making use of a range of supporting materials
- Awareness of and appreciation for linguistic and cultural differences - students will develop an awareness of and an appreciation for the range and nature of linguistic and cultural diversity.
- Knowledge of the relationship between language and mind/brain - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge of phenomena and findings relating to the complex interdependent relationship between language and mind/brain.
- Understanding of the nature and organisation of language - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge of observations and findings relating to various aspects of linguistic phenomena and organization.
- Understanding the nature of commonalities and differences across languages - students will demonstrate detailed knowledge of phenomena and findings relating to universals and diversity exhibited by and across languages.
Resource implications for students