EDEM631-15S2 (D) Semester Two 2015 (Distance)

Foundations of Language Acquisition and Learning

0.2500 EFTS
13 Jul 2015 - 15 Nov 2015


This course extends the professional knowledge-base of educational professionals through the examination of the main theories of first and second language acquisition, examining the linguistic, psychological and social processes that underlie language(s) learning and use.

The course is designed to critically engage experienced educators with the current national and international research and literature in language acquisition and second language learning. This will enable them to respond appropriately to the language, learning and achievement needs of the diverse students in a range of educational contexts, particularly students for whom the language of instruction is an additional language. The course will extend educators’ understanding of the importance of a linguistically supportive learning context for learners, and how education personnel can work effectively within these contexts.
In the contemporary educational setting, effective and responsive educators must continually strive to enhance their ability to serve the diverse learning and achievement needs and aspirations of the students in their classroom. The course will support educators in extending their understanding of the importance of language policy at the national and local level and support them in developing the skills needed to work effectively with such policies.

Learning Outcomes

Students completing this course will be able to:
1. articulate current theoretical underpinnings and relevant research in first/second language acquisition and the resulting methods and programme recommendations for teaching and learning languages;
2. describe the sociocultural foundations of language, and analyse the inter-relationship of language, culture and identity;
3. explain systems of languages;
4. identify the varied language needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students in mainstream classes;
5. critically analyse and critique current national and international issues, policies, and initiatives, including potential effects on practice, related to learning and teaching languages, including bicultural/bilingual education; language immersion programmes; indigenous language revitalization initiatives; heritage language maintenance; ESOL/TESOL, and multilingualism.

The course content will include lectures, seminar presentations, workshops, and on-line learning.  Course content will draw on the experience, background and expertise of the students as education professionals as appropriate. The course will make use of Learn to support and enhance student learning, and ensure on-going engagement with learning between sessions. The course content will include:

  • historical perspectives and contemporary theories and research in first and second language acquisition and learning, and the inter-relationship between the two processes;
  • linguistic, psychological and social processes that underlie language(s) learning and use;
  • the interrelationship of language, culture and identity and different language learning;
  • cultural and linguistic diversity in Aotearoa/New Zealand as well as the wider global educational context;
  • description, assessment, and analysis of language acquisition and development;
  • examination of current national and international social and policy issues and initiatives in learning and teaching languages, (e.g. including ESOL/TESOL, bilingual programs/bilingualism, 1st language/heritage language maintenance, indigenous language revitalization);
  • the role of policy in educational decision making, international, national and school policy e.g. why bilingual education? refugee and migrant programmes, community aspirations for their children, Ngai Tahu education aspirations, Treaty relations.


Subject to approval by the Head of School.


Enrolment in PGDipEd or M.Ed./Subject to Approval by Head of School

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Una Cunningham


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Take-home exam 06 Aug 2015 40%
Annotated bibliography 30 Aug 2015 20%
Policy paper 08 Nov 2015 40%


Required Texts

Lightbown, Patsy. , Spada, Nina Margaret; How languages are learned; Fourth edition; Oxford University Press, 2013.

Lourdes Ortega; Understanding Second Language Acquisition - 2nd edition; 2ND 15; Oxford University Press, 2015.

Additional reading will be supplied by the lecturer via Learn.


This course is obligatory for students in the Master of Computer-assisted Language Learning, and the Teaching and Learning Languages endorsement of the Postgraduate Diploma in Education.

Participants should have previously studied a language or completed teacher education or have experience teaching languages (including ESOL).

Additional Course Outline Information

Academic integrity

All forms of cheating and dishonest practice are taken seriously and penalties will result. Students should refer to Regulation J of the General Course and Examination Regulations.

Assessment and grading system

Assessment procedures will follow the policies of the UC College of Education Assessment Guidelines for Students.
Students must refer to the relevant sections of the course Learn site for full instructions regarding requirements for each assignment. There are three elements of assessment for this course and each element is weighted as stated above. Students must receive a passing mark (50% or over) for all three assessment elements to be eligible to pass the course. The scores for all assessment elements will be aggregated for the final grade. Final grades will be determined at an examiners’ meeting at the end of the course and reported using the UC Common Grading Scale.

Grading Scale
Grade    GPA Value        Marks

A+              9            90 – 100
A                8            85 – 89.99
A-               7            80 – 84.99
B+              6            75 – 79.99
B                5            70 – 74.99
B-               4            65 – 69.99
C+              3            60 – 64.99
C                2            55 – 59.99
C-               1            50 – 54.99
D                0            40 – 49.99
E               -1             0 – 39.99


As this course is based on a collaborative learning and teaching model, prepared participation by the student will be essential to meet the requirements of the course. Students will normally be expected to participate in online seminars in real time. Students who are unable to participate online in the real time classes will be asked to view recordings of the online seminars and complete engagement tasks.

Grade moderation

The course assessments will be subject to the usual moderation processes as per section 6 of the University of Canterbury Assessment Policy.

Late submission of work

No work will be marked if it is handed in after the due date without an extension having been granted.

Other specific requirements

Students need to have access to a networked computer or tablet to participate in the online seminars. They will need a headset or equivalent audio equipment (microphone and earbuds) and a webcam.

Requests for extensions

Students are encouraged to plan their work so deadlines are met. Extensions are not granted automatically. Under exceptional circumstances (e.g. illness, accident, bereavement, tangi, or critical personal circumstances) individual students may be granted an extension up to two weeks from the due date of the assignment. An extension request should be made at least two full days before the due date of the piece of assessment in writing either by email or letter. Applications must be supported by relevant evidence (e.g. medical certificate, letter from counsellor). Extensions will not normally be granted because of pressure of university study, e.g. several pieces of work being due around the same time. Students will be notified of the outcome of their extension application via email.


Resubmissions are not normally permitted.

Aegrotat considerations

Aegrotat considerations (students should refer to Regulation H of the General Course and Examination Regulations.)

Where to submit and collect work

Students will be expected to submit their assessments via the online assessment system in the Learn class site by 5.00 pm on or before the due date. The assessment system will normally automatically put assessment work through the software Turnitin, to check for plagiarism.

It is the responsibility of the students to check their Internet access and ability to submit their work via the online system.  Any technical difficulties should be notified well in advance of the due date so that assistance can be provided or alternative arrangements can be negotiated. (Students who have unreliable internet access are advised to attend to this early in the course to prevent last minute pressures). If you require assistance, please email ictservicedesk@canterbury.ac.nz, or phone 0800 763 676 ext 6060.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,690.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 10 people apply to enrol.

For further information see School of Teacher Education.

All EDEM631 Occurrences

  • EDEM631-15S2 (D) Semester Two 2015 (Distance)