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EIL 489: Foundations of Second Language Acquisition

Required book
Ortega, L. (2009). Understanding Second Language Acquisition. London: Hodder Education and Hachette UK.

Recommended book
Atkinson, D. (2011). Alternative approaches to second language acquisition. Abingdon: Routledge.

Course description: This course is a general introduction to the field of second language acquisition (SLA) studies. The course is organized into three thematic modules:

1) Universal Influences(eg., the potential effects of age, mother tongue, the linguistic environment, cognition, and the developnent of L2 learner language);

2) Individual Differences(eg., language aptidude and motivation, + affect and other factors); and

3) the Social Dimensions of L2 Learning(eg., Sociocultural Theory, Language Socialization Theory, Conversation Analysis-for-Second Language Acquistion, and Systemic-Functional Linguistics). The course will focus on both on the theoretical and applied aspects of SLA.

Course objectives

  1. To introduce students to contemporary approaches to SLA theories and research.
  2. To involve students in the process of analyzing and interpreting L2 data.
  3. To assist students in applying L2 theories and research findings to L2 pedagogy.


EIL 511: Task based language teaching

Aims: The aim of this capstone course on the implementation of curriculum design is to explore how task-based language teaching (TBLT) theory and practice mutually inform each other. Under the guidance of the instructor, students will develop the theoretical, analytical and practical skills that are needed to implement TBLT curricula.

Objectives: Students will analyze a broad range of qualitative instructional data provided by the instructor. These empirical data illuminate how the different phases of TBLT curriculum design (needs analysis, materials development, methodological implementation and evaluation/assessment) are put together in a real world setting. By the end of the course, therefore, students will be able to: 1) analyze empirical classroom materials; 2) distinguish among different kinds of TBLT in the theoretical literature; 3) write a textbook review; 4) develop materials that can withstand the Substitute Teacher Test (STT: i.e., if a substitute teacher is given a set of TBLT materials 15 minutes before going into the classroom, would s/he be able to give a good lesson based on these materials?); and 5) be able to judge whatever kind(s) of TBLT are most appropriate in different educational contexts.

Overview of the Course: The course consists of six modules: 1) Preliminary matters. 2) Doing TBLT (Two practical examples); 3) The appropriateness of TBLT in different educational contexts; 4) Sample task-based materials; 5) Theoretical underpinnings of TBLT materials design; and 6) Student projects.

Required Readings
Ellis, R. (2003) Task based language learning and teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Other readings will be provided by the instructor.