Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Second Language Acquisition – Theory, Practice and Research

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Languages and Humanities Education

DESCRIPTION Theories of Second Language Acquisition will be presented by focusing mainly on concepts which will enable students to understand cross-linguistic aspects of language learning and teaching: these include notions which shaped the field in the past, such as contrastive analysis, to others which are relevant today, such as interlanguage and developmental sequences.

Reference will be made to individual learning differences (language learning aptitude, personality, learning styles etc.) as well as to second language learning within a classroom setting, also with reference to the local context. The study-unit will also explore second language research that is useful to the language teacher to further enhance pedagogical content knowledge. The unit will provide students with a review of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and its main axes of reflection: common competence levels (from beginner to expert user), language activities, components of communicative competence and the benefits of adopting an action-oriented approach.

Study-Unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to assist students gain awareness of features that are present across languages which are relevant to language teaching and learning and to link theory to pedagogical practice. Reflections shall be made on the changing dynamics of the modern language classroom, especially in the light of new multicultural realities. By being exposed to cross-linguistic aspects related to language teaching and learning, students will be able to improve their learners' language competence and to relate second language teaching to knowledge and skills which can be transferred to other languages, thereby developing cross-linguistic teaching and learning strategies. The study-unit also aims to provide the research skills necessary to understand and carry out research in a second language area.

The unit also aims to help students understand the theoretical and practical implications of applying the principles contained in the CEFRL to the teaching of second and foreign languages, and to describe the foreign language teaching situation in Malta vis-à-vis the CEFRL.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- advance arguments relating to the basic theoretical notions of modern language teaching by being able to analyze and illustrate them in writing;
- describe and analyze cross-linguistic features of language teaching by providing examples from languages he/she is familiar with;
- elaborate on pedagogical strategies that are both language-specific and cross-linguistic by being able to reflect upon them in the light of the techniques used in the classroom;
- demonstrate through class tasks an understanding of the main characteristics of various types of research both quantitative (survey, correlational, quasi-experimental) and qualitative (case study, introspection, classroom);
- apply in his/her teaching, correction and assessment methods the main principles outlined in the CEFRL;
- explain and apply in his/her teaching the main orientations and methods of a task- and project-based foreign language teaching approach.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- demonstrate that s/he possesses language teaching techniques which also consider features which are common to a number of modern languages by providing practical examples of how these can be implemented in the language class;
- articulate research questions relating to second language research;
- carry out basic statistical procedures;
- design parts of surveys;
- match research questions with research tools;
- evaluate classroom research;
- design a simple research project for their teaching situation;
- list a number of practical tasks which can be assigned to learners for the teaching of specific language topics;
- list a number of projects which can be carried out with the foreign language learner as an active agent interacting socially to achieve the desired results.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Cook, V. (2008, 4th edition) Second language learning and Language Teaching, NY, Routledge.
- Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based Language Learning and Teaching. OUP.
- Ellis, Rod and Shintani, N. (2013) Exploring Language Pedagogy through Second Language Acquisition Research. (Routledge Introductions to Applied Linguistics)
- Kemaloglu, E. (2010). Project-based Foreign Language Learning: Theory and Research. Lap Lambert Academic Publishing.
- Lightbown, P and Spada, N (2013, 4th edition), How languages are learned, Oxford, OUP.
- Schwrzer, D., Petran, M. and Luke, C (2011) Research Informing Practice - Practice Informing Research: Innovative Teaching Methologies for World Language Teachers.

Supplementary Readings:

- Brown, J. D. and Rodgers, T.S. (2002) Doing Second Language Research, OUP.
- Brown, J.D. (1988) Understanding Research in Second Language Learning : A Teacher's Guide to Statistics and Research Design Cambridge.
- Chaudron, C. (1988) Second Language Classrooms: Research on Teaching and Learning Cambridge.
- Dörnyei, Z. (2003) Questionnaires in Second Language Research: Construction, Administration, and Processing Lawrence Erlbaum AssociatesMahwah, NJ.
- Hatch, E. and Farhady, H(1982) Research Design and Statistics for Applied Linguistics.
- Hatch, E. and Lazaraton, A. (1991) The Research Manual: Design and Statistics for Applied Linguistics Heinle and Heinle.
- Honigsfeld, A and Dove, M. G. Dove (2012) Co-Teaching and Other Collaborative Practices in The Efl/Esl Classroom: Rationale, Research, Reflections, And...
- Larson-Hall, J. ( ) A Guide to Doing Statistics in Second Language Research Using SPSS and R (Second Language Acquisition Research Series) 2nd Edition.
- Mackey, A. and Gass S. (2015) Second Language Research, Methodology and Design Lawrence Erlbaum AssociatesMahwah, NJ.
- Nunan, D. (1992) Research Methods in Language Learning Cambridge.
- Seliger H.W. and Shohamy E. (1989) Second Language Research Methods OUP.
- VanPatten Bill and Williams Jessica (2015) Theories in Second Language Acquisition: An Introduction.
- Beckett, G.H., Miller, P.C. (eds.). (2006). Project-based second and foreign language education. Past, Present and Future. Information Age Publishing.
- University of Cambridge Esol Examinations. (2011) Using the CEFR: Principles of Good Practice.
- Van den Branden, K., Bygate M., Norris, J. (eds.) (2009) Task-based Language Teaching: A reader. John Benjamins.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite Qualifications: A first-cycle degree (70 ECTS) in a curricular area


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Ruth Bonello
Phyllisienne Gauci
Doreen Spiteri

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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.