SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics

Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism

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Term 1

This course unit will be made available to students who are taking a 0.5-unit language-specific applied linguistic course (e.g., Korean and Tibetan, which are being proposed). In the existing 1-unit 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 1-unit language-specific applied linguistics courses, 0.5-unit language-specific pedagogy courses may become available to deal with (a) and (c) above. The current proposed Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism course 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

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

  1. an underpinning understanding of important second language acquisition (SLA) studies and theories,
  2. ability to critically evaluate research methods and arguments presented in recent published research papers,
  3. ability to evaluate the relevance of previous studies (that have come predominantly from English or other Indo-European languages) in relation to other languages, especially the student’s target language(s),
  4. ability to evaluate the applicability of research methods used in previous studies to study of the student’s target language and to their research topics,
  5. ability to generate clear and feasible research questions that address important issues in the field of Applied Linguistics,
  6. ability to design a small-scale study underpinned by understanding of SLA theories and methods


This course will be taught over 11 weeks with 3 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

  • Foundation of second language second language acquisition 
  • The linguistics of second language acquisition 
  • The psychology of second language acquisition 
  • Social contexts of second language acquisition 
  • Acquisition of L2 lexicon, syntax/morphology, phonology, pragmatics L2 speaking, listening, writing, reading 
  • Research methods

Method of assessment

One essay of 1,500 words to be submitted on day 1, week 7, term 1 (20%); one essay of 4,000 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1, term 2 (70%); students are expected to demonstrate their understanding of readings and ability to critically evaluate second language theory and research methods in discussion (10%).

Suggested reading

  • Bialystock, E. (2001). Bilingualism in development: Language, literacy, and cognition. Cambridge University Press.
  • Cook, V. (2008). Second language learning and teaching. 4th edition. Hodder Arnold.
  • Cook. V. & Bassetti, B. (2005). Second language writing system. Multilingual Matters.
  • de Groot, A. M. B., & Kroll, J. F. (1997). Tutorials in bilingualism: Psycholinguistic perspective. Psychology Press.
  • Ellis, R. (1994). The study of second language acquisition. Oxford University Press.
  • Koda, K. & Zehler, A. M. (2007). Learning to read across languages: Cross-linguistic relationship in first- and second language literacy development. Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Saville-Troike, M. (2006). Introducing second language acquisition. Cambridge University Press.

Selected articles from journals (e.g., Applied Linguistics, Language Learning, Modern Language Journal, Studies in Second Language Acquisition) such as below:

  • Byon, A. S. (2003). Language socialization and Korean as a heritage language: A study of Hawaiian classroom. Language, Culture, and Curriculum, 16 (3), 269-283.
  • Choi, S. & Lantolf, J. P. (2008). Representation and embodiment of meaning in L2 communication: Motion events in the speech and gesture of advanced L2 Korean and L2 speakers. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30, 191-224.
  • Hamada, M., & Koda, K. (2008). Influence of first language orthographic experience on second language decoding and word learning. Language Learning, 58 (1), 1-31.
  • Joen, K. J. (2007). Development of relativization in Korean as a foreign language: The noun phrase accessibility hierarchy in head-internal and head-external relative clauses. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 29, 253-276.
  • Kim, Y. (2008). The contribution of collaborative and individual tasks to the acquisition of L2 vocabulary. The Modern Language Journal, 92 (1), 114-130.
  • Nguyen, H. & Macken, M. A. (2008). Factors affecting the production of Vietnamese tones: A study of American learners. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30, 49-77.
  • O’Grady, W., Lee, M, & Choo, M. (2003). A subject-object asymmetry in the acquisition of relative clauses in Korean as a second language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 25 (3), 433-448.
  • Tarone, E. (2007). Sociolinguistic approaches to second language acquisition research—1197-2007.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules