BSc Education / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Language Acquisition at Home and School

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC34071
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Child language acquisition and second language acquisition, covering relevant areas such as the poverty of the stimulus, Language Acquisition Device (LAD), the critical period and sensitive period, Universal Grammar (UG) and the stages involved in language learning.  Adult language acquisition will also be covered, thus focusing on the acquisition of a second language later in life and how this differs from acquiring language as a child, but also including of course a prominent focus on children learning a second or foreign language, and the linguistic, cultural and sometimes political implications of this.


This unit aims to:

  • Cover the development of language in terms of the early acquisition of one’s first language and the acquisition and learning of a second language. 
  • Enable students to better appreciate the remarkable fact that we all acquire our first language in particular with comparatively little learning input
  • Discuss babbling and gesturing to the development of words and sentences, and then progress to adult language acquisition and relevant issues regarding bilingualism.
  • Focus on the pedagogical implications for learning a second language, as opposed to acquiring it, discussing relevant topics such as teaching and learning theories (e.g. Krashen’s comprehensible input), as well as the political aspects of language (e.g. using speakers’ first language as a means to discriminate if they are not native speakers of the dominant language).

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

  • Exhibit previously learned material by recalling concepts and theories related to child language acquisition (CLA) and adult second language learning acquisition
  • Demonstrate knowledge by creating illustrative examples in assessments of said concepts and theories

Intellectual skills

  • Analyse texts in order to evaluate and analyse data
  • Draw subsequent reasoned conclusions of the data within assessment

Practical skills

  • Make use of the relevant theories and models and apply them to academic discussion and assessment
  • Solve problems by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a different way

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Have the ability to independently gather, sift, synthesise and organise material from various sources (including library, electronic and online resources), and to critically evaluate its significance
  • Apply critical thinking skills to their future writing needs, in both university and work


Teaching and learning methods

Lecture, group work and individual study of relevant materials

Assessment methods

Essay, 3,000 words, 100% weighted within the unit

Recommended reading

Baratta, A. 2019. World Englishes in English language teaching. London: Palgrave   Macmillan.

Clark, E. 2003. First language acquisition.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ellis, R. 1997. Second language acquisition.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jenkins, J. 2007. English as a lingua franca: Attitude and identity. Oxford: Oxford  University Press.

Matsuda, A. 2017. Preparing teachers to teach English as an international language. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Alexander Baratta Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Activity Hours allocated
Staff-student contact 11 x 2 hours, 22 hours
Private study, reading and assessment prep 120
Preparation for sessions 58
Total 200


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