Semester: Sommersemester 2015

3.02.161 S Language Acquisition


  • Donnerstag: 10:00 - 12:00, wöchentlich


This seminar gives an introduction into first and second language acquisition, focusing on the acquisition of syntax. Specifically, we will zoom in on a construction called long-distance wh-movement, exemplified below:

1. Who do you think that Grover likes?

We will start by refreshing what we learned in the Basismodul Linguistics and discuss the major differences between L1 and L2 acquisition, focusing on the nature/nurture debate. After that, we will critically discuss several papers dealing with the acquisition of (long-distance) wh-question, both in first and second language acquisition. Taking the generative grammar framework of Chomsky as our point of departure, we will focus on the question what language acquisition data (in this case: long-distance wh-movement) reveals about human grammar and what kind of cognitive factors come into play when acquiring language.
The seminar builds on the topics introduced in the BM ‘Introduction to Linguistics and the English Language’. Successful completion of this BM is thus a prerequisite for taking this course. As a final project, students carry out a small-scale linguistic study which they report on in a poster presentation and a paper (you can choose to do either an experiment with L1 or L2 learners). Note that this course is accompanied by the exercise session ‘Methods in Language Acquisition Research’, taking place every fortnight, for which you must also sign up. At the end of this seminar, you have broadened your knowledge of language acquisition; you are able to set up a small scale linguistic study, and you are able to write and present a linguistic paper.

White, L. (2003). Second language acquisition and universal grammar. Cambridge University Press. (Chapter 1 & 2)
Guasti, M. T. (2004). Language acquisition: The growth of grammar. MIT Press. (Chapter 1)
Roeper, T., & de Villiers, J. (2011). The acquisition path for wh-questions. In Handbook of generative approaches to language acquisition (pp. 189-246). Springer Netherlands.
Haegeman, L. (1994). Introduction to government and binding theory. Blackwell Publishers. (Chapter 7)



  • ang616 Language Acquisition and Psycholinguistics
  • PB 195a Erweiterte anglophone Sprach- und Kulturkompetenz
  • PB 195b Erweiterte anglophone Sprach- und Kulturkompetenz
  • pb113 Erweiterte anglophone Sprach- und Kulturkompetenz
  • pb114 Erweiterte anglophone Sprach- und Kulturkompetenz


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