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Language Acquisition 2: The Spoken Word


Admission requirements

It is strongly recommended to have taken Linguistics 1: The Phonetics of English, or equivalent.


As a university-trained English Studies graduate, you are expected to be able to express yourself fluently, accurately and precisely. To help you achieve this goal, The Spoken Word focuses on what we believe are two essential competences: phonological control and vocabulary range and accuracy.

The pronunciation practice sessions aim to help you improve and develop your spoken intelligibility in English. We analyse and practise individual phonemes, but also stress, fluency, rhythm and intonation. Because English teachers in Dutch secondary schools tend to have a strong preference for either British or American English (i.e., for the variety that they themselves were taught), your pronunciation is likely to have a Received Pronunciation (RP; the prestige dialect of the United Kingdom) or Standard American flavour. However, these are not the only important varieties of English in the world. This is why the weekly lectures teach you to recognize and describe the most dominant varieties of English in the world and the connotations of various accents.

In the vocabulary practice sessions, the vocabulary and idioms that you have studied at home are activated in short in-class speaking assignments and oral presentations. Through self-study, you also acquire passive knowledge of phrasal verbs and idioms often used in colloquial English. And in the same way we, as a university English department, are interested in the relationship between sounds in theory (phonetics and phonology) and pronunciation, dialects and accents, we are also interested in words as a topic of academic study (lexicology and lexicography) and vocabulary in use. This is why we address questions that intrigue us as students of words: what is a word? What does meaning mean? How are words born and why do some words survive while others die?

Course objectives

  • You are able to pronounce English naturally and intelligibly.

  • You can reflect on your own and on other speakers' pronunciation in appropriate linguistic terms.

  • You are able to identify the pronunciation characteristics of international varieties of English and are aware of culturally determined aspects of communicating in these varieties.

  • You have acquired an active and accurate vocabulary that allows you to express yourself on a variety of everyday topics, as well as on current social and cultural issues.

  • You have a basic knowledge and understanding of lexicology and lexicography.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • One ninety-minute seminar

  • One forty-five-minute lecture on pronunciation and varieties of English

  • Self-study and speaking assignments

Assessment method


  • Weekly in-class mini-tests on the prescribed readings (students who miss more than two sessions will be expected to take an end-of-term test on all of the readings)

  • One in-class and one recorded oral presentation


  • Weekly in-class mini-tests: 50%

  • Oral presentations: 50%


Failed course components can be retaken.

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

  • Articles, web clips and vocabulary and idioms materials on Brightspace and online.

  • Smakman, D. (2020). Clear English pronunciation: A practical guide. Routledge.


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.

General information about MyStudyMap is available on the website

Students other than from the BA English language and culture cannot take this course.


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

  • For questions about enrolment and admission, contact the study advisor

  • For other questions, contact the Student administration Arsenaal


Not applicable.