FREN 505 Theories of Second Language Learning

Instructor: Terry Nadasdi

tel.: 492-1195

office: 218 D Arts (Old Arts building)

office hours: Tues./Thurs., 14h to 15h (or on request)


Lectures: Tues., 4 - 7:30 (Arts 246)

Objectives: The objective of this course is to familiarize students with recent research on second language acquisition in order to provide them with a better understanding of the processes involved in learning a second language. Topics to be discussed are Contrastive Analysis, Error Analysis, Learner Strategies, Sociolinguistic factors, L2 Variation, Language Attrition and Immersion Learning. Pedagogical ramifications and applications of theoretical discussion will also be discussed. It is intended that the study of how learners "go about" learning a second language will ensure that potential teachers will reflect this in their approaches to second language teaching.

Course text: Gass, S. & L. Selinker. 1994. Second Language Acquisition: an Introductory Course. Hillsdale, N.J.: Earlbaum.

Evaluation: participation: 10%

one book review and presentation: 20%

one article presentation: 10%

one final essay: 60%

Grading scheme (9 point scale)

Percentage mark out of 9

90-100 9

82-89 8

74-81 7

65-73 6

57-64 5

50-56 4

45-49 3

26-44 2

0-25 1









Course Outline

Week Topics

Jan. 6 Introduction, linguistics and SLA (p. 1-15), L2 data collection and analysis (p. 16-32)

Jan. 13 Contrastive Analysis, Error Analysis, Interlanguage (p. 53-78)

[Adjemian, LL 26]; [Zobl, LL 30]

Jan. 20 Morpheme order studies, L1 influence revisited, interlanguage, fossilization [79-107]

[Porter, LL 27]

Jan. 27 Typological and implicational universals, regularization, (p. 108-120)

[Eckman et al., LL 39]

Feb. 3 Universal Grammar, principles and parameters (p. 121-138)


Feb. 10 Competition model, Monitor model (p. 139-164), book review presentation.

Feb. 17 Reading Week

Feb. 24 L2 Variation, contextual factors (p. 165-181)

[Tarone, LL 29]

Mar. 3 Nonlanguage influences, pidginization, critical period hypothesis (p. 232-259)

[Patkowski, LL 30]

Mar. 10 Communication strategies, learner strategies, cognitive style (p. 181-189; 260-267)

[Chapelle and Green, LL 42]

Mar. 17 The Lexicon, word associations, memory, (p. 270-289)

[Palmberg, SSLA 9]

Mar. 24 Input, output (p. 196-221), interaction, communicative competence

[Canale and Swain, AL 1]; [Pica et al., TQ 21]

Mar. 31 Bilingualism, language attrition, immersion learning

[Cummins, Issues; see also Krashen @]; [Carey, CMLR 21]; [Fagan and Hayden, CMLR 44]

Apr. 7 From theory to practice

[Long, Issues]; [Lightbown]





Adjemian, C. 1976. On the nature of interlanguage systems. Language Learning 26. 297-320.

Canale, M. and Swain, M. 1980. Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics 1. 8-24.

Carey, S. 1984. Refelctions on a Decade of French immersion. Canadian Modern Language Review, 21. 246-259.

Chapelle, C. and Green, P. 1992. Field independence/dependence in second language acquisition research. Language Learning, 42. 47-83.

Cummins, J. 1988. Second language acquisition within bilingual education programs. In Issues in second language acquisition, L. Beebe (ed.).

Eckman, Fl, Moravcsik, E. and Wirth, J. 1989. Implicational universals and interrogative structures in the interlanguage of ESL learners. Language Learning 39. 173-205.

Fagan, W. and Hayden, H.M. 1988. Writing processes in French and English of fifth grade French immersion students. Canadian Modern Language Review 44. 653-668.

Lightbown, P. 1985. Great expectations: second langauge acquisition research and classroom teaching. Applied Linguistics 6. 173-193.

Long, M. 1988. Instructed interlanguage development. In Issues in second language acquisition, L. Beebe (ed.).

Palmberg, R. 1987. Patterns of vocabulary development in foreigh-language learners. Studies in Second Language Acquisiton 9. 203-222.

Patkowski, M. The sensitive period for the acquisition of syntax in a second language. Language Learning 30. 449-472.

Pica, T., Young, R. and Doughty, C. 1987. The impact of interaction on comprehension. Tesol Quarterly 21. 737-759.

Porter, J. 1977. A cross-sectional study of morpheme acquisition in first language learners. Language Learning 27. 47-62.

Schacter, J. 1989. Testing a proposed universal. In S. Gass and J. Schachter (Eds.), Lingusitic perpectives on second language acquisition. 73-88.

Tarone, E. 1979. Interlanguage as chameleon. Language Learning 29. 181-191.

Zobl, H. 1980. The formal and developmental selectivity of L1 influence on L2 acquisition Language Learning 30. 43-57.

Journals (available at Rutherford and Coutts)

Applied Linguistics (AL)

Applied Psychology (AP)

Canadian Modern Language Review (CMLR)

Language Learning (LL)

Second Language Research (SSR)

Studies in Second Language Aquisition (SSLA)

Tesol Quarterly (QT)


Additional References

Archibald, J. and G. Libben. 1995. Research Perspectives on Second Language Acquisition. Toronto: Copp Clarke.

Brown, H. D. 1993. Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. Third Edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents.

Ellis, R. 1994. The Study of Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Blackwell.

Cook, V. 1993. Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition. London: The MacMillan Press.

Cook, V. 1991. Second Language Learning and Language Teaching. Great Britain: Edward Arnold.