Language Development in Children


By the end of the course, students will be able to:
(i) master central concepts and theories in first language (L1) and second language (L2) acquisition;
(ii) identify the differences and parallelisms between child L1, child L2 and adult L2 acquisition;
(iii) understand the processes underlying L2 acquisition, in general, and child L2 acquisition, in particular;
(iv) describe essential aspects of the development of lexical and grammatical knowledge in L2 English;
(v) analyze learner language and identify possible explanations for the patterns of linguistic behaviour found;
(vi) comprehend the role of the linguistic environment (i.e., input, output, interaction and explicit language teaching) in L2 acquisition;
(vii) discuss and identify the potential implications of L2 acquisition research findings for English language teaching

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Joana Alexandra Vaz Teixeira


Weekly - 3

Total - 280

Teaching language





Ellis, R. (2015). Understanding second language acquisition (2nd ed). Oxford / New York: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R., & Shintani, N. (2014). Exploring language pedagogy through second language acquisition research. Oxon: Routledge.

Haznedar, B., e Gavruseva, E. (Eds.) (2008). Current trends in child second language acquisition: A generative perspective. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Loewen, S., & Sato, M. (Eds.) (2017). The Routledge handbook of instructed second language acquisition. London / New York: Routledge.

Miller, D., Bayram, F., Rothman, J., & Serratrice, L. (Eds.) (2018). Bilingual cognition and language: The state of the science across its subfields. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Philp, J., Oliver, R., & Mackey, A. (Eds.) (2008). Second language acquisition and the younger learner: Child’s play? Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Slabakova, R. (2016). Second language acquisition. Oxford / New York: Oxford University Press.

Teaching method

Classes have a theoretical and a practical component. Practical work includes analysis of linguistic data and discussion on the topics and texts under study and on their relevance to English language teaching (to young learners).

Evaluation method

Students will be assessed on the basis of the following elements:

(i) short written assignments (40%);

(ii) a final paper (60%).

Subject matter

1. Introductory concepts: language, languages, grammar and linguistic competence
2. L1 (monolingual and bilingual) acquisition: an overview
3. Child L1, child L2 and adult L2 acquisition: main differences and similarities
4. Theories of L2 acquisition
5. Cross-linguistic influence and other learner-internal mechanisms
6. Aspects of the development of lexical knowledge in L2 English
7. Aspects of the development of grammatical knowledge in L2 English: phonology, morphology, syntax and the syntax-discourse interface
8. Individual factors in L2 acquisition
9. The role of input, output and interaction in L2 acquisition
10. Explicit teaching and L2 acquisition


Programs where the course is taught: