Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Child Language Acquisition of English

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit first covers the main theories of how children acquire their first language and a critique of some of these theories, in particular Chomsky's views on language acquisition. Moreover, the biological factors in language acquisition will also be discussed.

However, the bulk of the lectures will discuss:
- The development of the child's vocal productions (phonology);
- The growth in the child's both active and passive vocabulary;
- The development of the meaning of words (semantics);
- How children lean to put words together (morphology and syntax).

Other topics will include among others, the importance of child-mother interaction, gender and social-class related differences in children's language and their parents' understanding of children's speech and whether there is language delay in the language acquisition fraternal and identical twins when compared to singletons.

Study-Unit Aims:

- To familiarise students with the most important theories of child language acquisition;
- To allow students to appreciate the relatively quick manner in which children acquire their first language;
- To help students reflect on the differences in the language acquisition processes when singletons are compared with twins.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Critically evaluate child language acquisition theories;
- Recognise the different stages in the course of phonological, syntactic and semantic development;
- Appreciate how the child's language acquisition process may be delayed due to factors related to social class, lack of child-parent interaction and other factors.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Evaluate the different theories on how children acquire their first language in a monolingual setting;
- Appraise the reasons why learning the first language is seemingly effortless;
- Evaluate the language acquisition process in both singletons and twins.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Berko Gleason, J. 2004. The Development of Language (4th Edition). Pearson.
- Saxton, M. 2010. Child Language Acquisition and Development. Sage Publications.

Supplementary Readings:

- Ambridge, B. and Lieven, E. 2011. Child Language Acquisition: Contrasting Theories. Cambridge University Press.
- Elliot, A. 1981. Child Language. Cambridge University Press.
- Kess, J. 1992. Psycholinguistics: Psychology, linguistics and the acquisition of language. John Benjamins.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite Study-unit: ENG1080


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Lydia Sciriha

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Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.