LING219-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Language Acquisition

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


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 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.

Pre-requisites: LING101 or LING111 or ENGL123 or ENGL112 or relevant background in EDUC or EDED or PSYC with the approval of the Head of Department.
This course is an elective course in the undergraduate Linguistics major. It is also available to, and suitable for, students taking a minor in Linguistics or a languages degree; students preparing to be teachers of children or adults; those in the pre-professional year of speech pathology training; and those interested in the psychology of language.

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).

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.


Any 15 points at any level from any subject.


CMDS221, LING205

Course Coordinator

Susan Foster-Cohen


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Transcript 10% Week 3
Take-home test 10% Week 6
MLU of transcript 5% Week 7
Article commentaries 15% Week 10
Take-home test #2 10% Week 12
Full transcript analysis 50% Exam period

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 $821.00

International fee $3,750.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, 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

  • LING219-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023
  • LING219-23S1 (D) Semester One 2023 (Distance)