Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module QXL-3320:
SLA and Language Teaching

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Jessica Clapham

Overall aims and purpose

This module will introduce students to the various issues pertaining to the acquisition of a second language by child and adult learners in EFL (English being learned as a foreign or 2nd language) contexts. We will overview issues such as the role L1 transfer, age in L2 acquisition (child L2 vs. adult L2) and the impact of individual differences. We will also explore developmental stages and ultimate attainment in L2 children and adults. We will cover these issues by discussing current theories of L2 acquisition and learning.

• To introduce students to the linguistic and cognitive processes involved in acquiring a second language;
• To enhance students’ understanding of how language is acquired by child and adult second language learners;
• To enhance students’ appreciation of the various theoretical models proposed concerning second language acquisition in EFL contexts and consider their use;
• To enhance students’ awareness of the implications of the research findings from second language acquisition research for teaching.

Course content

The topics covered in this module would be the following:
1. Background to SLA Research.
2. Individual differences in L2 users and L2 learners.
3. L1 transfer: Code-switching and Second Language Learning.
4. Theories of L2 acquisition.
5. The role of age in L2 acquisition.
6. The goals of language teaching and assessment.
7. The L2 user and the native speaker.
8. Embedding SLA research into Language teaching.

Assessment Criteria


The student can demonstrate a minimum level of understanding of the area studied and must involve some critical analysis of existing research into Second Language Acquisition. The answer must show evidence of some background study of primary sources and literature going beyond material discussed in lectures. The answer must be relevant to the topic.


The student can demonstrate a clear and accurate understanding of the area studied; and display evidence of having consulted relevant readings, making clear and accurate reference to those source materials, free from misunderstanding and errors of content, and is free from irrelevant material. Students will also display a better than average standard of understanding and/or knowledge of all LOs.


The student has revealed a thorough understanding of the area studied, both in terms of content and theory; is able to apply concepts clearly and accurately; display evidence of critical thought; clear, logical argument; and display communicative competence, free from irrelevant material and errors of spelling and punctuation. Students will have achieved a thorough/excellent understanding and/or knowledge in all LOs.

Learning outcomes

  1. Students will be able to identify and evaluate key theories relating to second language acquisition research.

  2. Students will be able to demonstrate awareness of and appraise how various languages are acquired as a second language by child and adult learners.

  3. Students will be able to describe and compare key theories in the study of second language acquisition.

  4. Students will be able to demonstrate understanding of the implications of these theories for effective learning and teaching of English as a foreign language.

  5. Students will be able to critically appraise key methodologies used in the field of second language acquisition.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Essay (1500 words) 30
Essay 70

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

In their own time, students will be expected to do further reading, go through materials covered in class and do further research on the topics, and prepare assignments.


One 1 hour seminar per fortnight (5 over the 11 weeks).


Weekly 2 hour lecture, for 11 weeks


Students are encouraged to see the lecturer on a one-to-one basis during published office hours (or by appointment) to discuss issues with the module content, seek clarification on topics and discussions, and discuss feedback on assessments and class exercises.

Private study

Directed Reading - students are given required reading each week (of about 2 hours) on the topic of that week's lecture.


Transferable skills

  • 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
  • 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.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Problem solving - students will be able to evidence sophisticated problem-solving skills in formulating problems (factual, empirical, theoretical) in precise terms, identifying key issues, and developing the confidence to address challenging problems using a variety of different approaches
  • 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.
  • Personal organisation - students will develop the ability to undertake self-directed study and learning with appropriate time-management
  • Learning to learn - students will learn to reflect upon, modify and improve their learning strategies
  • Information technology - students will develop the ability to use computing and IT skills in order to find, store, interpret and present information, to produce a range of electronic documents and to use software confidently
  • 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
  • Working effectively with others - students will develop the ability to work well with others as part of a group or a team
  • 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.
  • Proficiency in the use of English in reading, writing, speaking and/or listening - students will demonstrate proficiency in their ability to use and understand English in a range of different contexts and via different media.
  • Knowledge of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) theory and practice - students will demonstrate familiarity with core terms, issues, principles, aspects and best practices related to the teaching of English as a foreign language.
  • Understanding of the nature of bi/multilingualism - students will demonstrate familiarity with phenomena and findings relating to the nature of bilingual and multilingual individuals and communities.
  • 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


Talis Reading list

Reading list

Most readings will be available online on Blackboard or in hard-copy from the University Library, though students are also given details of a core text they are encouraged to buy.

Recommended reading:
Cook V (2013) Second Language Learning and Language Teaching, Routledge, Oxford.
Ellis R & Shantani, N (2014) Exploring Language Pedagogy through SLA Research, London: Routledge.
Ellis, R., Loewen, S., Elder, C., Erlam, R., Philp, J., & Reinders, H. (2009) (Eds.). Implicit and explicit knowledge in second language learning, testing and teaching. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. [access e-book via link on Blackboard]
Gass, S., & Mackey, A. (Ed.) (2012). The Routledge handbook of second language acquisition. London: Routledge [Call number: P118.2 .R68 2011, reserve collection]
Gass, S., & Selinker, L. (2008). Second language acquisition: An introductory course. London: Routledge. [e-book accessible via our Blackboard site]
Mackey, A., & Gass, S. (2005). Second language research: Methodology and design. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. [P118.2 .M23 2005, reserve collection]
Ortega, L. (2009): Understanding second language acquisition. London: Hodder.[Call number: P118.2 .S423 2011, reserve collection]
Ritchie, W. C., & Bhatia, T. (2009). The new handbook of second language acquisition. Bingley: Emerald Press. [Call number: P118.2 .N48 2009, reserve collection]
VanPatten, B., & Benati, A. G. (2010). Key terms in second language acquisition. London: Continuum. [access e-book via link on Blackboard]
White, L. (2003). Second language acquisition and Universal Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Call number: P118.2 W39 2003] [access e-book via link on Blackboard]

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: