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LIN8001 Principles of Second Language Learning

Semester 2, 2019 Online
Short Description: Principle of 2nd Lang Learning
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Education
Student contribution band : National Priority - Teaching
ASCED code : 070115 - English as a SecLangTeach
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Gavin Austin


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 second language learning; (d) cognitive processes and strategies involved in second language learning and communication; (e) individual learner characteristics, learning and environments; (f) social and cultural factors affecting L1 and L2 use; (g) consideration of the implications of second language learning research and theory for language teaching.


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 should be able to:

  1. gain an advanced and integrated understanding of the various factors involved in the process of acquiring a second language (Assignment 1, Assignment 2, Assignment 3, Assignment 4)
  2. carry out research related to the process of acquiring a second language (Assignment 1, Assignment 2, Assignment 3, Assignment 4)
  3. be able to analyse critically, reflect on and synthesise the information, problems, concepts and theories which are relevant to the process of acquiring a second language (Assignment 1, Assignment 2, Assignment 3, Assignment 4)
  4. interpret and transmit to specialist and non-specialist audiences the information, problems, concepts and theories which are relevant to the process of acquiring a second language (Assignment 1, Assignment 2, Assignment 3, Assignment 4)
  5. demonstrate autonomy, expert judgement, adaptability and responsibility in each of the tasks identified in objectives 1 to 4 (Assignment 1, Assignment 2, Assignment 3, Assignment 4)
  6. hypothesise the different types of individual differences and their putative effect upon the rate of SL learning (Assignment 1, Assignment 2, Assignment 3, Assignment 4)


Description Weighting(%)
1. Introduction to second language acquisition 10.00
2. Age 10.00
3. Cross-linguistic influences 10.00
4. The linguistic environment 10.00
5. Cognition 10.00
6. Development of learner language 10.00
7. Foreign language aptitude 10.00
8. Motivation 10.00
9. Affect and other individual differences 10.00
10. Social dimensions of L2 learning. 10.00

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. (

Ortega, L 2009, Understanding second language acquisition, 1st edn, Hodder Education, London.

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 2014, Principles of language learning and teaching, 6th edn, Pearson, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Ellis, R & Barkhuizen, GP 2005, Analysing learner language, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Whether you are on, or off campus, the USQ Library is an excellent source of information

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Directed Study 80.00
Independent Study 85.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGNMENT 1 20 20 21 Aug 2019
ASSIGNMENT 2 20 20 25 Sep 2019
ASSIGNMENT 3 20 20 09 Oct 2019
ASSIGNMENT 4 40 40 23 Oct 2019

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or 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:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  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 for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    There is no examination 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 at

Other requirements

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

  2. Submit assignments electronically.