Language learning - THEORIES OF LANGUAGE LEARNING (2018/2019)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Serena Dal Maso
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. 2A dal Feb 18, 2019 al Mar 30, 2019.

To show the organization of the course that includes this module, follow this link * Course organization

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

The course aims at providing students with detailed knowledge on Second Languige Acquisition and Learning. At the end of the course students are expected to:
- acquire detailed knowledge on linguistic development and understand the fundamental milestones of L2 acquisition process;
- apply the tools for linguistic analysis in order to recognize and describe the main phenomena characterizing L1 and L2 acquisition process, to discuss them at the different levels of analysis (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon);
- develop critical judgments about the interpretations provided within the different theoretical frameworks for the acquisition and learning mechanisms and specifically about the role played by factors such as : age, first language, linguistic environment, learner’s ‘affective profile.

The course will be held in ENGLISH.


The course will describe the development of second language in relation to the acquisition of the first language and to bi/ multilingualism. More specifically, during the course we will discuss the role played by factors such as: age, first language and cross-linguistic influence, input and linguistic context, cognitive mechanisms (above all memory and attention), individual variables (especially motivation and aptitude). The analysis of the scientific literature on the role played by these factors aims to clarify the complex interaction between internal and external variables on the learning process. Finally, the course will also try to make students aware of the different interpretations that the main theoretical approaches have proposed to account for the role of the factors discussed.

Main references:
Ortega, L. (2013). Understanding Second Language Acquisition. London & New York: Routledge.

Non-attending students will find the detailed program on the e-learning page linked to this course.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Ortega, L. Understanding Second Language Acquisition Routledge 2013

Assessment methods and criteria

The final exam aims at assessing the theoretical knowledge acquired by the students during the course, as well as their ability to apply this knowledge to concrete linguistic phenomena.

The assessment is carried out by means of a written examination, which lasts 1:30.
The test consists of both open and multiple-choice questions and will deal with all the topics of the program, both those addressed during classes and those autonomously studied by the students.

The evaluation criteria are:

- substantial correctness of the answers and exhaustiveness of the contents
- adequateness of analytical skills
- expressive soundness and argumentative skills