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Language acquisition


Admission requirements

Successful completion of an introductory course in linguistics, with basic knowledge of phonological, morphological and syntactic terminology.


This course provides a basic introduction into the acquisition of a first language by children between 0-4 years of age. We will read and discuss key journal articles from the field and study actual child language data.

Course objectives

  • Acquire knowledge and insight in the process of first language acquisition

  • Acquire knowledge and insight in the research methods that are used in the field.

  • Acquire knowledge and insight in the nature of child language data.

  • Learn to interpret data from a theoretical perspective.

  • Learn how to formulate hypotheses about language development.

  • Acquire a basic insight into the ways such hypotheses could be tested.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


Written final examination with short open questions and essay questions (100%)


A resit of the final exam will be organized.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

A partial list of articles that will be discussed is below, other articles will be announced in advance in class and on Brightspace.

Journal articles:

  • Maye, J., Werker, J. F., & Gerken, L. (2002). Infant sensitivity to distributional information can affect phonetic discrimination. Cognition, 82(3), B101-B111.

  • Saffran, J., Aslin, R., Newport, E. (1996). Statistical learning by 8-month-old infants. Science, 274.

  • Marcus, Vijayan, Bhandi-Rao & Vishton (1999). Rule learning in 7-months-old infants. *Science *283.

  • Geambașu, A., Spit, S., van Renswoude, D., Blom, E., Fikkert, P., Hunnius, S., Junge, C., Verhagen, J., Visser, I., Wijnen, F. & Levelt, C. (2022). Robustness of the rule learning effect in seven-month-old infants: A Close, multi-center replication of Marcus et al. (1999). Registered Report, Developmental Science

  • Stager, C. L., & Werker, J. F. (1997). Infants listen for more phonetic detail in speech perception than in word-learning tasks. Nature, 388, 381-382


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvensplaats


not applicable