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Language Acquistion 1: From Scratch to Script


Admission requirements



There are no rules in writing. There are useful principles. Throw them away when they’re not useful. But always know what you’re throwing away.
-Will Shetterly

According to the American writer Will Shetterly there are no rules in writing – the only rule that applies to writing is that there are no rules. Shetterly does believe in useful principles that can be used in writing, or ignored if they are not relevant to a particular text. However, in order to apply the principles or simply discard them, a writer first has to get to know them well, which is why this introductory writing course aims to familiarise you with the grammatical and stylistic features of formal texts in English. Some of the topics to be dealt with are formal register, cohesion, writing introductions and conclusions, using reference books, and acknowledging one’s sources. Furthermore, we will discuss those areas of English grammar that you need to become an accurate writer. Students will prepare different writing, spelling and punctuation, style and grammar tasks at home, which will then be discussed in seminars, whereas weekly lectures will provide you with invaluable background information on topics relevant to the writing process. Students will also hand in a short writing assignment which will be commented upon and marked.

Course objectives

At the end of this course the students will be able to

  • identify and define grammatical and stylistic features of formal texts;

  • use the appropriate terminology to describe grammatical and stylistic features of formal texts;

  • apply theory to practice by means of weekly homework assignments;

  • compose/write short academic essays in grammatically and stylistically correct English.


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website

Mode of instruction

One-hour lecture and one-hour seminar per week.

Assessment method

  • Written multiple-choice exam on grammar, spelling and punctuation, and on stylistics as discussed in the lectures and Kolln (60%).

  • Essay of 750 words (40%).


This course is supported by Blackboard

Reading list

  • Davidson, G. (Ed.). Roget’s thesaurus of English words and phrases. London: Penguin. [Most recent edition]

  • From scratch to script: texts and assignments language acquisition 1, Reader.

  • Kolln, M.J. & Gray L.S. (2010). Rhetorical grammar: international edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

  • Longman dictionary of contemporary English. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education. [Most recent edition].

  • McIntosh, C. Francis, B. & Poole, R. Oxford collocations dictionary for students of English. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Most recent edition].


Students should register through uSis. Exchange students cannot register through uSis, but must see the director of studies and register with her. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Departmental Office English Language and Culture, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144; mail:
Co-ordinator of Studies: Ms T.D. Obbens, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.