SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism

Module Code:
Taught in:
Term 1

This module will be made available to students who are taking a 15 credit language-specific applied linguistic course (e.g., Korean and Tibetan). In the existing 30 credit Japanese Applied Linguistics course, students (a) study language-specific research on teaching (pedagogy), (b) study research on learning the target language and on second language acquisition theories, and (c) observe target language classes and conduct practice-teaching.

For language paths for which there are no 30 credit language-specific applied linguistics modules, 15 credit language-specific pedagogy modules may become available to deal with (a) and (c) above. The current proposed Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism module is being proposed to fill the gap of (b), In this course, the students will become familiar with SLA theories and develop the ability to examine the relevance and applicability of previous SLA work for their target language.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

This module presents a historical overview of development in the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and Bilingualism, introduces important SLA theories and concepts, and acquaints students with some research methods commonly employed in SLA research.

At the end of the module, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  • an underpinning understanding of important second language acquisition (SLA) concepts and theories,
  • an ability to critically evaluate recently published research papers


Total of 10 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a lecture.

Scope and syllabus

You will be familiarised with key concepts in SLA and seminal SLA studies (both historical and current) from different perspectives (linguistics, psychology and social dimensions) and will read and discuss some recent empirical research papers.  

Method of assessment

A 5-minute presentation of a summary and critique of an empirical paper 1 (9%); an essay of 2000 words (Problem statement 1) due Monday week 7 (31%); a 10-minute presentation of problem statement Week 10 (9%); an essay of 2500 words (critical review of literature and problem statement) due Term 2 Week 1 Thursday (51%).

Suggested reading

  • Block, D. (2003). The social turn in second language acquisition. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
  • Gass, S. M., Behney, J., & Plonsky, L. (2013). Second language acquisition: An introductory course. Fourth edition. New York: Routledge.
  • Ortega, L. (2009). Understanding second language acquisition. Hodder Education.
  • Saville-Troike, M. & Karen Barto (2017). Introducing second language acquisition. Third Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • VanPatten, B. & Williams, J. (2015). Theories in second language acquisition: an introduction. New York: Routledge. 


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules