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Cognitive approaches to second language acquisition


Admission requirements

An introductory course in language acquisition or psycholinguistics at MA or BA3 level at a university. Please contact Dr. N.H. de Jong if you are interested in taking this course, but do NOT fulfill the abovementioned requirement.


The course addresses the acquisition and use of a second language from a cognitive perspective. One of the main rationales for this perspective has been that degree of success in learning a second language is heterogeneous rather than the (claimed) homogeneous success for native language learning. Cognitive approaches to second language learning seek answers to the question why individuals differ in this way. Research has focused on how information is processed and represented, on relevant individual characteristics (such as proficiency in the first language, age, level of education, and working memory capacity), and on pedagogical tasks. The course consists of two main parts: In the first part, students will get acquainted with current research and theories on the topic; in the second part, students will carry out research related to one of the topics introduced in part I.

Course objectives

To learn to read and interpret the relevant literature;
To understand the most relevant theories.
To learn to synthesize and present research literature;
To learn to collect, analyze, and report on data for a specific research question;


The timetable is available on the MA Linguistics website

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load 280 hours (10 EC)
Attending seminars: 26 hours
Weekly homework: 26 hours
Reading: 90 hours
Research project (including writing): 126 hours
Presentation: 12 hours

Assessment method

Presentation 30%
Course Paper 70%

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.

Resit: students who fail the course may resit the course paper.

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.


This course will be supported by Blackboard.

  • Information on the course and on assignments

  • Notifications

Reading list

Mitchell, R., Myles, F., & Marsden, E. (2013). Second language learning theories. Routledge, 3rd edition.

Plus articles/book chapters that can be downloaded from the UB.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English.

Students other than MA Linguistics need permission from the coordinator of studies before enrolling.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Nivja de Jong

Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof