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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 by children. In addition to a textbook we will read and discuss key journal articles from the field of first language acquisition. 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 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


Midterm exam: take home assignment
Final exam: a written exam with a combination of short open questions and essay questions


Midterm exam: 30%
Final Exam: 70%
In order to pass, the grade for the final exam has to be 5.5 or higher


A resit of the final exam is possible.

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

Textbook: Goodluck, H. (2020). Language Acquisition by Children, a Linguistic Introduction. Edinburgh Advanced Textbooks in Linguistics, Edingburgh: Edingburgh University Press.

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


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

For questions related to the content of the course, please contact the lecturer, you can find their contact information by clicking on their name in the sidebar.

For questions regarding enrollment please contact the Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats E-mail address Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats:

For questions regarding your studyprogress contact the Coordinator of Studies


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