LING219-20S2 (D) Semester Two 2020 (Distance)

Language Acquisition

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 13 July 2020
End Date: Sunday, 8 November 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 24 July 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 25 September 2020


This course deals with key aspects of how human language is acquired by children, from infancy to adolescence. Selected topics in bilingual and second language development are also covered.

This course explores language acquisition in infants, children and adults, with a focus on oral language development in children. We will take a largely psychological approach, with opportunities for hands-on experience of language acquisition research, and will explore what we know about how first language, bilingual language, and second languages are acquired and what can both help and hinder those developments.

How do we humans acquire languages? Why can we acquire several languages in childhood but find it so much more difficult to acquire languages later in life? Why are some people better second language learners than others; and are some children better first language learners than others? What helps us learn and what can hinder us? How does the language learning environment of home, community and classroom impact on our ability to acquire languages? Does it matter what language we are acquiring? If we cease to use our languages will we lose them? What happens to language when there is brain damage?

This course is relevant for pre-service and in-service teachers at all levels; those interested in becoming second/foreign language teachers or in improving their teaching practice; those in developmental psychology and/or linguistics; and those interested in entering clinical fields such as speech therapy.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will:

1. Have an understanding of the path of, and explanations for, language development across the world in children and older learners and variations within it (UCGP 5.1);
2. Have an awareness and appreciation of the nature and importance of bilingual and second language development in children and adults (UCGP 3.1);
3. Be able to demonstrate their ability to apply analytical and critical thinking to learner language, from either children or adults (UCGP 2.3);
4. Have an understanding of the value of understanding language acquisition to real life contexts, such as teaching and clinical professions (UCGP 4.3).


Any 15 points at any level from any subject.


CMDS221, LING205

Course Coordinator

Susan Foster-Cohen


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
CHILDES database transcript pt1 29 Jul 2020 10%
CHILDES database transcript pt 2 10 Aug 2020 10%
Article commentary 09 Sep 2020 20%
Transcript analysis 14 Oct 2020 40%
Two take-home tests 20% Due 19th August and 23rd September.

Textbooks / Resources

Required Texts

Rowland, Caroline; Understanding Child Language Acquisition; Taylor and Francis, 2013.

Recommended Reading

Ortega, Lourdes; Understanding second language acquisition; Hodder Education, 2009.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $777.00

International fee $3,375.00

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

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences.

All LING219 Occurrences

  • LING219-20S2 (C) Semester Two 2020
  • LING219-20S2 (D) Semester Two 2020 (Distance)