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Bilingual Acquisition


Admission requirements

To be able to enter this MA course you need a basic knowledge of phonology and syntax.


In this course we will explore the linguistic and psychological aspects of first and second language acquisition (SLA) during childhood. Moreover, we will look at a wide range of issues central to the understanding of the complex nature of the bilingual mind. We focus in particular on heritage languages and language users in the EU. Heritage speakers are exposed to the heritage language during the so-called “sensitive periods” of acquisition in some linguistic areas or domains. For heritage language users, the length, manner and amount of exposure to the home language may not be continual and this fact has consequences for the linguistic system.
Whereas much research has been conducted on the acquisition of languages in a monolingual setting, heritage languages have been understudied. Studying heritage languages and language users will shed more light on the issue of how a grammar may be acquired, maintained and/or how it can decline under conditions of reduced input and usage. Heritage language research thus presents novel data and new possibilities for asking and answering questions that are relevant to linguistic theory.
We will compare the language input of monolingual and bilingual language learners and investigates how the monolingual and the multi-language user represent and process linguistic information. A selection of key articles on the study of bilingualism in general and on the study of heritage language acquisition and maintenance in particular will be discussed. As part of the course, each student will have to formulate his or her own research question, formulate relevant hypotheses and design a small experiment that – time permitting – could be conducted with real speakers.Brief introductory description of the course.

Course objectives

To learn to read and interpret the relevant literature;
To understand the most relevant theories;
To learn to collect and process empirical data on early language acquisition;
To write critically on your own and other people’s research.


The timetable is available on the MA Linguistics website

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Lectures: 26 hours Literature 114 hours Preparation lecture / assignments: 26 hours Assignments: 114 hours

Assessment method

  • Homework 30%

  • Course Paper 30%

  • Exam 40%

The final grade consists of weighted average of the above components.

Resit: students who fail the course may resit the exam and/or course paper.

Exam Review

Students are entitled to view their marked examination within a period of 30 days, following publication of the results of a written examination.


This course will be supported by Blackboard.


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


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof