Theories of Second Language Acquisition

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
14 May 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA Q11012 Applied Linguistics,
MA Q14012 Language in Society

Module description

This module will provide an introduction to the processes involved in the acquisition of language and the nature of the learner's knowledge of language. The emphasis of the module is on some of the different theoretical approaches which have been adopted for studying language learning. These different theories will be examined and critically assessed in the light of empirical evidence.

Module aims

The module will focus on the following issues:
• First language acquisition
• Second language acquisition:
• developmental sequences
• similarities and differences between first and second language acquisition and between child and adult second language acquisition
• the role of the first language in the second language acquisition process
• the role played by Universal Grammar
• the role played by cognitive mechanisms
• the role played by age of initial exposure, input and interaction and psycho-social factors
• The complexity of the interaction between innate linguistic knowledge, general learning mechanisms and social factors in language acquisition

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will:
• understand key theoretical constructs used in the field of language acquisition
• be aware of past and current issues in the generative study of the acquisition of morpho-syntax
• be able to evaluate, compare and contrast major theoretical perspectives
• be able to evaluate the theoretical and empirical research literature

Additionally, students will practise and develop the following generic skills:
• taking notes effectively, in classes and from their own readings
• researching focused topics in appropriate books, journals and electronic sources
constructing a coherent argument based on a range of theoretical and empirical evidence

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

One two-hour seminar per week (groups of 15-20 max) for ten weeks. Broadly speaking, the first part of the seminar will introduce a theoretical framework, and the second part will involve student-centred exercises or group tasks, and discussion of issues raised in the lectures or associated readings. The core text for this module is ‘Mitchell, Myles & Marsden (2019; 4th ed.). Second language learning theories. London: Routledge.


  • Mitchell, Rosamond; Myles, Florence; Marsden, Emma. (2019) Second language learning theories, New York, NY: Routledge.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Assignment 1: 1000 Words   20/11/2020  30% 
Coursework   Assignment 2: 2000 Words   11/01/2021  70% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Florence Myles, email: fmyles@essex.ac.uk.
Florence Myles
Florence Myles; 4.131; 2228; fmyles@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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