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Jill Robbins, Chair 150 W 21st Street, Stop B3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4936

Spring 2008

SPN 383N • Theory Building in Second Language Acquisition

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
48445 W
4:00 PM-7:00 PM
MEZ 1.104

Course Description

Theories are proposed to explain a related set of phenomena whereas empirical data are put forth to support specific theories. Even though there has been a great deal of data collection and research on the processes that guide the acquisition and development of a second language in the last few decades, there is yet no comprehensive theory of Second Language Acquisition (SLA). What's more, there is no true consensus among scholars on the fundamental questions SLA research should explain, nor on what counts as an adequate explanation. Within that framework of analysis, the present course explores the process of theory building in SLA from the perspective of linguistic, cognitive and socio-cultural approaches to SLA.

Some of the most relevant topics to be analyzed in this course are: the nature of monolingualism and multilingualism, implicit versus explicit learning, incidental versus intentional learning, universal grammar, cross-linguistic influences of the L1, instructed versus informal learning, stabilization and fossilization, individual differences, scaffolding and the Zone of Proximal Development. The course will ask students to describe and justify theoretically-plausible accounts of both linear and non-linear developmental sequences of acquisition from within the perspective of the major theoretical strands to be discussed in the assigned readings.


Required readings: Block, D. 2003. The Social Turn in Second Language Acquisition. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press. De Bot, K., Lowie, W., and M. Verspoor. 2005. Second Language Acquisition: An Advanced Resource Book. London: Routledge. Jordan, G. 2004. Theory Construction in Second Language Acquisition. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Lafford, B. and R. Salaberry. 2003. Spanish Second Language Acquisition: State of the Science. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.


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