LING30060 First Language Acquisition

Academic Year 2020/2021

This module examines how children acquire their first (native) language focusing on the following topics: the rule-based acquisition of inflectional morphemes; the U-shaped development of irregular verbs; the uniform sequential development of function morphemes and words; the development of sentence structure; the apparent late acquisition of passive sentences; the acquisition of questions; the apparent late acquisition of pronouns relative to anaphors; selected aspects of bilingual acquisition.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

At the completion of the module, students are expected to
--analyse acquisition data relative to data from adult language (pattern recognition and problem-solving);
--represent acquisition data in the form of tree-digrams;
--appreciate and critically evaluate competing hypotheses and models of acquisition data;
--appreciate and evaluate the implications of child language for existing models of language (theory construction);

Indicative Module Content:

The rule-based acquisition of inflectional morphemes
The U-shaped development of irregular verbs
The development of sentence structure
The development of subjects
The acquisition of questions
The apparent late acquisition of passive sentences
The apparent late acquisition of pronouns relative to reflexives

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module and its assessment will be delivered online via Brightspace. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

Students must have knowledge of Syntax up to the level of Syntax II. International students are advised to ensure they have equivalent pre-requisite knowledge.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
LING20010 - Syntax 2

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: Essay Week 6 n/a Graded No


Essay: Essay Week 12 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on Week 6 essay provided in Weeks 8-9

Title: Language Acquisition: The Growth of Grammar
Editions: First (2002) and Second (2016)
Author: Maria Teresa Guasti
Publisher: MIT Press

Title: Syntactic Theory and the Acquisition of English Syntax
Date: 1990
Author: Andrew Radford
Publisher: Blackwell

Title: Words and Rules
Year: 1999/2011
Author: Steven Pinker
Publisher: Harper Perennial