Methodologies for the Study of Language Acquisition


a) To know the advantages and disadvantages of naturalistic and experimental methodologies for the study of language aquisition and their adequacy to the study of production or comprehension, to the phenomenon under investigation and to different contexts of language acquisition;
b) To develop the capacity to apply different experimental and naturalistic methodologies to the study of language acquisition;
c) To be able to relate research hypotheses with the methodology that will be applied;
d) To master the fundamental notions for a quantitative and qualitative analysis of acquisition data;
e) To know the ethical principles that should be followed in data collection;
f) To develop the ability to prepare a research project in the field of language acquisition, considering research hypothesis, sample selection, identification of variables and methodologic procedures.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Maria Fernandes Homem de Sousa Lobo Gonçalves


Weekly - 3

Total - 280

Teaching language



Available soon


Armon-Lotem, S., J. de Jong & N. Meir, eds. 2015. Assessing Multilingual Children. Disentangling Bilingualism from Language Impairment. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Blom, E. & S. Unsworth. 2010. Experimental Methods in Language Acquisition Research. Amsterdam / Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Crain, S. & R. Thornton. 2000. Investigations in Universal Grammar. A Guide to Experiments on the Acquisition of Syntax and Semantics. MIT Press.
Field, A. & G. Hole. 2003. How to design and report experiments. London: SAGE Publications.
Mackey, A. & S. M. Gass. 2005. Second Language Research. Methodology and design. Routledge.
Mackey, A. & S. M. Gass. 2011. Research Methods in Second Language Acquisition. A Practical Guide. Wiley-Blackwell.
McDaniel, D., C. McKee & H. S. Cairns, eds. 1996. Methods for Assessing Children’s Syntax. Cambridge, Mass. / London: The MIT Press.
Wey, L. & M. G Moyer , eds. 2008. Blackwell Guide to Research Methods in Bilingualism and Multilingualism. Wiley-Blackwell.

Teaching method

The course includes theoretical and practical sessions that will enable the student to develop the ability to apply different methodologies to the study of language acquisition and reflect on the adequacy of different methodologies to different research questions.

Evaluation method

Critical evaluation of the methodology of a study (20%), Oral and written presentation of a research project in language acquisition(60%), Practical exercises of data collection and analysis(20%)

Subject matter

1. Methodologies for the study of language acquisition
1.1. Naturalistic methods – corpora building; the CHILDES and PHON databases
1.2. Experimental methods – production, perception, comprehension, language awareness, processing
2. Analysis of acquisition data
2.1. Measures of linguistic development
2.2. Data transcription and coding
2.3. Tools for qualitative analysis
2.4. Tools for quantitative analysis
2.5. Fundamentals of statistical analysis – descriptivr and inferential statistics
3. Prepare a research project in language acquisition
3.1. Identifiying relevant questions and formulating hypotheses
3.2. Building the research design
3.3. Defining the sample and the relevant variables – ethical issues; sociolinguistic questionnaires; proficiency measures
3.4. Collecting data: selecting the appropriate methodology