EDM084-Second Language Teaching and Learning

Module Provider: Institute of Education
Number of credits: 40 [20 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2021/2

Module Convenor: Dr Daguo Li
Email: d.li@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:
This module focuses on theories of second language acquisition and on how key debates in the field have shaped our understanding of the processes involved in learning another language. Special attention will be given to the issue of individual differences between learners, implicit and explicit learning as well as contextual and intercultural factors in second language acquisition. Students will become familiar with a range of research methods used in the field and discuss how theoretical insights can inform teaching practice. It provides the opportunity for students to reflect on their own practice in Second Language Teaching (or in some cases, their previous learning experiences in the classroom). Current international and local pedagogies and good practice in specific areas of Second Language Teaching will also be examined.

Over the past few decades, foreign language teaching has evolved from a pre-occupation with methods of teaching to a broader perspective of teaching and learning. Within this wider perspective, it is important that teachers not only concern themselves with how they teach, i.e. the methods/approaches and techniques they use, but also develop an understanding of how learners learn, i.e. the processes of learning. It is generally believed that insights into learning can increase the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Such insights are gained from theory and research in multiple disciplines, such as first language acquisition, second language acquisition, psychology, and applied linguistics.

This module will examine in depth major themes and current developments in foreign language teaching and learning. It aims to help students understand both the historical background of, and current theory and research on various aspects of foreign language teaching and learning and relate theory and research to educational practice in different cultural contexts. It will draw on the tutors’ own published research and current research interests to illuminate the issues.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is anticipated that the students will be able to: 

  1. understand and evaluate different methods/approaches in foreign language teaching;

  2. develop a critical understanding of different cognitive and (socio-)linguistic theories of second language acquisition, and compare nativist and emergentist theories;

  3. understand contextual factors in second language learning;

  4. have a clear understand ing of the processes of, and the learner’s contribution to, second language learning;

  5. understand research methods in second language acquisition and pedagogy;

  6. relate theory and research to practice in different cultural and educational contexts;

  7. conduct a small-scale inquiry into an aspect of second language teaching and learning.

Additional outcomes:
This module will encourage the development of communication and presentation skills, academic writing styles, critical thinking and evaluation, and a spirit of academic inquiry.

Outline content:

  1. Foreign language pedagogy: major methods and approaches in foreign language teaching;

  2. Current theory and research on bilingualism and second language learning: theories, processes, and contributing factors;

  3. Models of listening, speaking, reading and writing;

  4. Research methods in second language acquisition and pedagogy, including the use of corpora in research and teaching;

  5. Current methodologies, including Communicati ve Language Teaching (CLT) and Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT);

  6. Key concepts in education, such as learner-centredness, co-operative learning, learner autonomy, learning strategies and motivation;

  7. Debates about key issues such as the role of input and interaction, transfer, the teachability of grammar, the use of authentic materials, the native-speaker goal;

  8. Skills in observing second language classrooms;


Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Lectures, seminars and group discussions. In addition intensive use is made of a Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard). Blackboard will also host interactive online exercises which enable students to practise and test their knowledge in their own time between classes. Blackboard is also used to provide links to up-to-date computational tools and large-scale language corpora and to give students access to Discussion Boards to facilitate peer-assisted learning.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 30
Tutorials 2
Practicals classes and workshops 10
Guided independent study: 338
Total hours by term 400
Total hours for module 400

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 60
Oral assessment and presentation 40

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

One essay of 5,000 words

One oral presentation of 10 minutes

Formative assessment methods:

Students will be set regular tasks on which they receive feedback from the tutor.

Penalties for late submission:

The below information applies to students on taught programmes except those on Postgraduate Flexible programmes. Penalties for late submission, and the associated procedures, which apply to Postgraduate Flexible programmes are specified in the policy “Penalties for late submission for Postgraduate Flexible programmes”, which can be found here: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/files/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmissionPGflexible.pdf
The Support Centres will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:
Students must achieve a 50% aggregate mark

Reassessment arrangements:
The essay must be resubmitted within one month of the student being notified of failure.
The presentation must be re-examined within one month of the student being notified of failure.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

1) Required text books: There are no required text books for this module. However, the following book listed should be useful: Lightbown, P. M., &Spada, N. (2013). How languages are learned (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780194541268 (pbk.) 0194541266 (pbk.) These texts are available in the library or you may be able to source them more cheaply than the publisher’s recommended price (£29.00). Many items on the reading list are journal articles or e-books that are freely available via the University Library databases.

2) Specialist equipment or materials: 

3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: 

4) Printing and binding: 

5) Computers and devices with a particular specification: 

6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence: 

Last updated: 26 October 2021


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