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Language Acquisition 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 a short academic essay in grammatically and stylistically correct English.


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

Mode of instruction

  • lecture

  • seminar

Course Load

The course load of this course is 140 hours.

  • hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 25

  • time for studying the compulsory literature: 60

  • time to prepare for the exam and/or write a paper (including reading / research): 55

Assessment method

  • written multiple-choice exam on grammar, spelling and punctuation, and on stylistics as discussed in the lectures and Kolln (50%)

  • academic essay (50%)

Both components have to be sufficient (6.0) in order to successfully finish this course.


This course is supported by Blackboard

Reading list

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

  • Longman dictionary of contemporary English. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education. [Meest recente druk].

  • Collins English paperback thesaurus. 6th ed. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers.

  • From scratch to script: texts and assignments language acquisition 1. [Reader beschikbaar op Blackboard].

  • McIntosh, Colin, Ben Francis & Richard Poole. (2009). Oxford collocations dictionary for students of English. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


First year students will be assigned to a tutor group. All other students (including exchange students) must see the coordinator 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 via Studeren à la carte
Registration via Contractonderwijs


English Language and Culture departmental office, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144;
Coordinator of studies: Ms T.D. Obbens, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.