Language learning (2016/2017)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Serena Dal Maso
Serena Dal Maso
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II SEMESTRE dal Feb 27, 2017 al Jun 10, 2017.

Lesson timetable

Learning outcomes

The course aims at providing students with an overview of the main theories of first and second language acquisition, and at focusing on the recent contributions on the acquisition of grammatical structures and vocabulary by spontaneous and guided L2 learners. After the course the students will possess the analytical tools to describe interlanguages of learners with different levels of competence and to account for the main linguistic phenomena which characterize the acquisition process. Students will also be able to reflect on the different psycholinguistic mechanisms which guide the acquisition of language.


The course introduces to the basic notions of language acquisition (the difference between acquisition and learning; L1, L2 and FL; spontaneous and guided learning; input and intake; sequence of acquisition; motivation; fossilization etc.) and discusses in a historical perspective the main theories proposed to explain the L1 and L2 learning processes: behaviorism, nativism, cognitivism. In this framework, special attention will be given to the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis, the Error Analysis, the Interlanguage approach, the Monitor Hypothesis. The course will also address the question on the role of memory in language acquisition. Finally, we will discuss factors which produce individual variation, especially age, motivation and attitude.
BETTONI C., 2001, Imparare un'altra lingua. Lezioni di linguistica applicata, Bari-Roma, Laterza.
Program and materials will be the same for attending and non-attending students.

Assessment methods and criteria

The final exam aims at assessing the theoretical knowledge acquired by the students during the course, as well as their ability to apply this knowledge to describe concrete interlinguistic productions and the main SLA phenomena.
The assessment is carried out by means of a preliminary written examination, followed by an oral examination. The results of the written examination will be published on the e-learning webpage of the course together with the schedule of the oral assessment.
The written examination will last 1:30 and will consist of 15 questions of different nature: there will be both open questions and interlinguistic production to be described and commented, which will assess the students’ ability to apply the acquired theoretical notions to concrete cases.
The questions will refer to all the topics mentioned in the program, both those addressed during the classes and those that are studied autonomously by the students. The oral assessment will consist in an interview on the same program.