General information

Course type AMUPIE
Module title Language acquisition and learning
Language English
Module lecturer prof. UAM dr hab. Anna Ewert
Lecturer's email
Lecturer position Professor
Faculty Faculty of English
Semester 2024/2025 (winter)
Duration 30
USOS code 15-LAAL-AMU-PIE-11


Module aim (aims)

The course provides an introduction to second language acquisition research. The initial lectures define the scope of second language studies and demonstrate their relationship to other disciplines, such as linguistics and applied linguistics, psychology, psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics, social psychology and sociolinguistics, and discuss major issues in related fields of study, such as multiple and heritage language acquisition. Then the historical predecessors of second language acquisition studies are presented: behaviorism in psychology as well as structuralism in linguistics and the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis. The cognitive revolution in the social sciences initiated by Chomsky is discussed and the influence Chomsky’s early ideas had on the emergence of second language acquisition as a separate field of study. The influence of Chomsky’s ideas is also shown in early second language acquisition research: Error Analysis and interlanguage studies, morpheme order studies and Krashen’s Monitor Model. As the field matures, the scope of interest broadens to include crosslinguistic influence at the cognitive, not only linguistic, level. Then, Chomsky’s Universal Grammar is discussed along with the controversies it raised in second language acquisition research and Cook’s multicompetence proposal. After that, major relevant concepts from psychology are presented with a focus on information processing approaches along with the role of memory in second language acquisition, as well as emergentism and usage-based approaches. The students are also introduced to neurological foundations of first and second language processing as well as an overview of findings on the role of age in second language acquisition. The course ends with a presentation of major concepts in bilingualism and multilingualism research.

Pre-requisites in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences (where relevant)


Week 1: Second language acquisition as a separate research field.


Week 2: Historical foundations of second language acquisition research: behaviorism, structuralism and the contrastive analysis hypothesis.


Week 3: The cognitive revolution. Chomsky’s views on language and language acquisition.       


Week 4: Early second language acquisition research: error analysis and interlanguage.


Week 5: Morpheme order studies and Krashen’s Monitor model.


Week 6: Newer approaches to transfer/crosslinguistic influence.


Week 7: Universal Grammar.


Week 8: Information processing. The role of memory in language acquisition.


Week 9: The role of consciousness. Noticing and learning strategies.


Week 10: Language in the brain.


Week 11: The role of age in second language acquisition.         


Week 12: Bilingualism and multilingualism: overview of the field.


Week 13: The bilingual mental lexicon.


Week 14: Multicompetence and conceptual transfer.

Reading list

Cook, Vivian. 1993. Linguistics and second language acquisition. Houndmills, HA: Macmillan.

Corder, S. Pit. 1967. “The significance of learners’ errors”. IRAL 5 (4): 161-170. [Reprinted in: Jack C. Richards. 1974. Error Analysis. Perspectives on second language acquisition. London: Longman, pp. 19-27.]   

de Bot, Kees - Wander Lowie - Marjolijn Verspoor. 2005. Second language acquisition. An advanced resource book. London: Routledge.

Gass, Susan M. - Larry Selinker. 2008. Second language acquisition. An introductory course (2nd edition). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Krashen, Stephen D. 1982. Principles and practice in second language acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon Press, pp. 10-32.

Li Wei. 2007. A user-friendly linguistics. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 17: 117-119.

Ortega, Lourdes. 2009. Understanding second language acquisition. London: Hodder Education.

Saville-Troike, Muriel. 2006. Introducing second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Selinker, Larry. 1972. “Interlanguage”. IRAL 10 (3): 209-231. [Reprinted in: Jack C. Richards. 1974. Error Analysis. Perspectives on second language acquisition. London: Longman, pp. 31-54.]