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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 an introduction to the acquisition of a first language in the first three years of life. Aspects of phonological-, morphological -and syntactic development, the role of language input and different research methods are discussed on the basis of a series of journal articles. Attention will be paid to the relation between linguistic theory and child language data.

Course objectives

  • Acquire knowledge and insight in the process of first lanaguage 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.


Linguistics (BA)

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load 140 hours

  • Lectures: 26 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 40 hours

  • Assignment(s): 26 hours

  • Preparation exam: 44 hours

  • Exam(s): 4 hours

Assessment method


Midterm take home exam with open questions
Final exam with short open questions


Midterm exam: 30%
Final exam: 70%
The final exam has to be 5.5 or higher to pass.


A resit of the final exam is possible.

inspection and feedback

A review within 30 days after publication of the exam results is possible upon request.



Reading list

The full reading list will be made available at the start of the course. Readings include:

  • Vouloumanos, A., & Werker, J. F. (2007). Listening to language at birth: Evidence for a bias for speech in neonates. *Developmental Science, 10, 159-171.

  • 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). Satistical learning by 8-month-old infants. Science, 274.

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

  • 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.

  • Swingley, D., & Aslin, R. (2002). Lexical neighborhoods and the word-form representations of 14-month-olds. Psychological Science, 13, 480-484

  • Valian, V. and Casey, L. (2003). Young children's acquisition of wh-questions: the role of structured input. Journal of Child Language, 30, 117-143.

  • Fernald, A., Perfors, A., & Marchman, V. (2006). Picking up speed in understanding: speech processing efficiency and vocabulary growth across the 2nd year. Developmental Psychology, 42, 98-116.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on this website



Education Administration Office

Coordinator of Studies