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Topics in Linguistics C: Descriptive and Contact Linguistics


Admission requirements

This course is only open to students of the ResMA Linguistics.


This seminar discusses topics in Contact Linguistics, focusing in particular on the practicalities of doing research: how to develop hypotheses and experiments for such research, and how to deal with the various ways and materials available to collect data. Topics to be covered include: overview of the main sources of divergence among bilinguals (e.g., transfer, incomplete acquisition, universal principles, language exposure); different types of experimental groups and control groups; investigating bilingualism using different types of data (production and/or comprehension), and investigating bilingualism in different grammatical areas. The teaching material includes journal articles, chapters from PhD theses in contact linguistics, and websites where students can find stimuli that can be used in experiments.

Course objectives

The ultimate goal of the seminar is that students will be able to create a small-scale contact-linguistic study. During the course, students will learn to develop their own research question(s) and hypotheses; they will also learn to design experiments to answer their questions, and ultimately they will learn to deal with actual raw data collection from “participants””. This human dimension will enable students to connect to new people or people they already know, but under a new light. Recruiting participants and conducting an experiment are life-enriching experiences.


One time per week Linguistics research

Mode of instruction


Course Load

5 EC x 28 hours= 140 hours

  • Amount of lectures: (2 hours per 7 week =) 14 hours

  • Literature : 40 hours

  • Assignments: (2 x 16 hours) = 32 hours

  • Final paper= about 50 hours (10-12 hours reading extra literature + 8-10 hours for extra data collection, 8 hours results analysis, 25 hours writing).

Assessment method

Final paper: 100%

There will be 2 assignments during the seminar (one between week 4 and 5; one between week 6 and 7). For assignment 1, students will be asked to design one production task (MPI video-clips, cloze task, etc.) and collect production data from a group of bilingual speakers (2-3 speakers). For assignment 2, students will be asked to design one comprehension task (e.g. judgment task) and collect comprehension data from the same group of bilingual speakers. Assignment 1 and 2 are short reports (about 2 pages) of these 2 mini-researches. The assignments will not be graded, but students will get feedback and comments. Students have to submit each assignment at least 1 day before the next class. Failure to submit the assignment entails that the student will not get any feedback and will valuable input for the final paper.

The students are encouraged to take one (or both) of the assignments as the starting point for their final paper. In this way, they can re-use some of the material that they have already developed for the assignment(s). The final paper is a mini-research (a small-scale study) that the student will conduct drawing on the knowledge acquired in the seminar. The final paper will be graded and the mark for the paper is the final mark.

Exam review

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.


Blackboard will be used. Blackboard

Reading list

The literature will be available on Blackboard before the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch


F. R. Moro

Education Administration Office van Wijkplaats:

Coordinator of Studies: Else van Dijk