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LIN8001 Principles of Second Language Learning

Semester 1, 2011 On-campus Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Education
School or Department : Education

Contents on this page


Examiner: Kathryn Young


Teachers of second languages need to have a theoretical framework which would enable them to evaluate their activities in the classroom more effectively. While in practice it is possible to find that an activity that is theoretically ineffective can be effective through teacher or other factors operating in the classroom, nevertheless to be able to teach creatively in the classroom, teachers need to know why something they do in the classroom works. No teacher operating in the classroom does so without some sort of theory of teaching, however rudimentary it might be. This course attempts to provide teachers with a coherent theory of second language learning.


The course emphasises recent research in second language acquisition and the theoretical issues underlying such research in terms of (a) various approaches to assessing and describing learner language; (b) the notion of "interlanguage"; (c) the question of transfer from first language in SLL; (d) cognitive processes and strategies involved in second language learning and communication; (e) individual learner characteristics, learning and environment; (f) social and cultural factors affecting L1 and L2 use; (g) consideration of the implications of SL learning research and theory for language teaching. NOTE: Minimum enrolment numbers apply to this offering. Should enrolments not reach the minimum number required for on-campus study, students may be transferred to the WEB offering and advised of this change before semester commences.


The course objectives define the student learning outcomes for a course. The assessment item(s) that may be used to assess student achievement of an objective are shown in parenthesis. On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. critically discuss the similarities and differences between first and second language acquisition; (Assignment and Reflective Journal)
  2. identify and discuss the different ways that learner language can be assessed and described by discussing key concepts such as "interlanguage", "language learner language", "error analysis"; (Assignment and Reflective Journal)
  3. discuss the reasons for variability that exists in language learner language and give examples of different types of variability; (Assignment and Reflective Journal)
  4. read more effectively research articles in SL journals; (Assignment; Take Home Exam and Reflective Journal)
  5. critically discuss the strengths and weaknesses of various current SLA theories and identify elements in them that can be used in classroom; (Take Home Exam)
  6. identify the different types of communication strategies and assess their use in classroom; (Take Home Exam)
  7. develop some understanding of cognitive styles and be able to discuss the implications of learning styles for classroom teacher practice; (Take Home Exam)
  8. enumerate various types of learning strategies and critically discuss their role in SL learning; (Take Home Exam)
  9. identify the different types of individual differences and their putative effect upon the rate of SL learning; (Take Home Exam)
  10. develop a framework for a more analytic approach to SL classroom practices. (Assignment; Take Home Exam)
  11. demonstrate competence in scholarly writing including spelling, grammar, punctuation and bibliographic referencing (Assignment and Take Home Exam)


Description Weighting(%)
1. First and Second Language Acquisition: Same or different? 10.00
2. How do we describe second language development 15.00
3. A brief overview of how to read research in SLA 5.00
4. Theories of Second Language Acquisition 20.00
5. Communication strategies 15.00
6. Learning a second language (cognitive styles, learning styles, & learning strategies) 15.00
7. Individual differences in Second Language Acquisition (intelligence, aptitude, motivation, sociocultural factors, age, affective & personality factors) 20.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Readings available via studydesk.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Brown, HD 2006, Principles of language learning and teaching, 5th edn, Addison Wesley Longman Inc, New York.
  • Dornyei, Z 2005, The Psychology of the Language of the language Learner: Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition, Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, N.J.
  • Ellis, R 1994, The study of second language acquisition, OUP, Oxford.
  • Whether you are on, or off campus, the USQ Library is an excellent source of information // The gateway to education resources is here ... //

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Directed Study 82.00
Independent Study 83.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGNMENT 35 35 01 Apr 2011
REFLECTIVE JOURNAL 5 5 01 Apr 2011 (see note 1)
TAKE HOME EXAM 60 60 10 Jun 2011

  1. The Reflective Journal is to be submitted with Assignment.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to study all material required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks (Depending upon the requirements in Statement 4 below, students may not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to receive a passing grade in this course.)

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without (prior) approval of the examiner then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment may apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded. No assignments will be accepted after model answers have been posted.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    As there are no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. APA style is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use APA style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The APA style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide. //

Other requirements

  1. Students will require access to e-mail and Internet access to UConnect for this course.

  2. Submit assignments with USQ Cover page and declaration.