Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)


Department: Language Centre


Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability
Tied to Q3K207
Tied to Q3K307


  • Language for Teaching


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • At the end of the module, students will
  • Have acquired critical understanding of the range of phenomena explored in research on the acquisition of phonology by both children and adults;
  • Understand why first and second language acquisition of phonology might differ;
  • Know what important contributions phonological theory has made to the understanding of acquisition of phonology;
  • See how both first language knowledge and universals shape child and adult interlanguage phonology;
  • Be able to critically evaluate issues of a theoretical and empirical nature;
  • Have a better grasp of how to teach 2nd language pronunciation


  • In examining issues in the study of the acquisition of phonology, this module extends ideas students have come across in Describing Language for Second Language Acquisition. The module begins with a consideration of how very young children acquire phonology and then moves on to consider rejecting the view that when acquiring a second phonology, adults are solely influenced by first language knowledge. The interaction of first language knowledge with universals and developmental processes is explored in tandem with the context in which adults are exposed to a second sound system. The module also contains a component which focuses on the practical difficulties of teaching pronunciation, and how such difficulties may be overcome.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Building on the knowledge phonology from the general level attained in Term 1 Language for Teachers module such that students have a full understanding of concepts in current phonological theory
  • Through understanding of phonetics
  • Understanding of how phonetics and phonological theory informs research in the acquisition of a second phonological system
  • Knowledge of current issues in the acquisition of phonology
  • Understanding theoretical issues in second language acquisition and applied linguistics
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Mastery of the analytical skills used in and phonological theory
  • Ability to teach pronunciation effectively
Key Skills:
  • Ability to critically evaluate relevant primary literature
  • Ability to understand qualitative and quantitative data
  • Development of skills in critical thinking and argumentation.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The lectures introduce students to the specific topics in phonology and acquisition. The seminars provide a forum for students to discuss in more depth current research on the first language aquisition of phonology on the one hand, and to explore the implications of second language phonology research for classroom teaching and critically assess experimental studies on the other. Students lead discussion to develop oral argumentation skills.
  • This will enable students to:
  • build on their knowledge of language acquisition and phonology and develop their knowledge and understanding of up-to-date developments in the field;
  • become familiar with reading primary literature
  • produce a 3,000-word assignment which stretches the student's skills in designing and implementing a language acquisition study. The student will analyse and interpret the resulting data within the context of current research. The written presentation of the study hones the student's written communication skills and the oral presentation hones their oral skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Weekly 2 hours 20
Seminars 4 Fortnightly 1 hour 4
Preparation and Reading 126
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Word Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
word essay 3,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Assignments prepared in advance by the student and discussed during the seminars.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University