Module Details

LG209-5-FY-CO: Child Language Acquisition And Language Disorders

Year: 2016/17
Department: Language and Linguistics
Essex credit: 30
ECTS credit: 15
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No
Pre-requisites: (LG105 or LG103)

Supervisor: Prof. Monika Schmid
Teaching Staff: Prof. Monika Schmid
Contact details: Prof. M Schmid, Office: 4.304, Tel: 01206 872089, Email: Dr Skoruppa, office: 4.340; tel: 01206 872113; email:

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

In the first term, we focus on how preschool children learn to talk. We look not only at the linguistic development of monolingual children, but also at the development of bilingual children. In relation to bilingual children, we ask whether a child who is bilingual in (say) Spanish and English initially develops a single hybrid (Spanglish) system for the two languages (so producing sentences which are a mixture of Spanish and English), or whether there is evidence that bilingual children from the outset develop separate systems for each of the languages they are acquiring. In the second term, the course will concentrate on developmental language disorders. We will review different conditions that can cause problems with first language acquisition, such as hearing impairment, Williams Syndrome and Specific Language Impairment. Students will be introduced to linguistic descriptions of disordered speech and language, and to tests that can be used to detect problems in language acquisition. We will also discuss methods for early diagnosis and therapy of language disorders.


On successful completion of the module, the student will be able to:
i) understand leading ideas in current research on the early linguistic development of monolingual, bilingual and language-disordered children
ii) describe and analyse aspects of the spoken language production of children and second language learners, using appropriate terminology, techniques and tools,
iii) critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of research into the linguistic development of monolingual, bilingual and language-disordered children
iv) present ideas in a structured, coherent and cohesive fashion, using appropriate style and terminology, and demonstrating clarity, precision, accuracy and originality.

Learning and Teaching Methods

One 2 hour seminar each week


50 per cent Coursework Mark, 50 per cent Exam Mark

Exam Duration and Period

3:00 during Summer Examination period.


  • There is no set course book for this module.
  • Autumn:
  • Recommended core readings are selected from a set of recent textbooks which will be available in the library's short loan section. Most of the readings come from the following two books:
  • Stillwell Peccei, J. (2006) Child language : a resource book for students. Routledge.
  • Spring: Harley, T. (2001) The Psychology of Language, 2nd Edition. Psychology Press.
  • Spring:
  • Short weekly readings will be made available on moodle. The following two books are recommended for interested students:
  • Introduction to language disorders in different linguistic areas, with interesting case study examples:
  • Chiat (2000): Understanding Children with Language Problems. Cambridge University Press.
  • Introduction to different conditions that can lead to problems in language development:
  • Bishop & Mogford (1993): Language Development in Exceptional Circumstances. Psychology Press.
  • Eisenbeiss, S. (2009) Generative approaches to language learning. Linguistics 47(2): 273-310.
  • Eisenbeiss, S. (2010.) Production Methods in Language Acquisition Research. In: Blom, E. and Unsworth, S. (eds.) Experimental methods. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 11-34.
  • Eisenbeiss, S. (to appear) Syntax and language acquisition. In: T. Kiss and A. Alexiadou (eds.), Syntax: an international handbook, 2nd Edition. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. (available in the myLife space for the module).
  • Gleason, J. B. (2001) The Development of Language, 5th Edition. Allyn and Bacon.
  • Gleason, J. B. and N. B. Ratner (eds.) (1998) Psycholinguistics. Harcourt Brace.
  • Guasti, M. T. (2002) Language Acquisition: The growth of grammar. MIT Press.
  • Harley, T. (2001) The psychology of language, 2nd Edition. Psychology Press.
  • Pinker, S. (1999) Words and rules. Basic Books.
  • Ritchie, W.C. & Bhatia, K.T. (1999a) Child language acquisition: introduction, foundations, and overview. In: Ritchie, W.C. & Bhatia, K.T. (eds). Handbook of child language acquisition. San Diego: Academic Press, 3-32.
  • Stillwell Peccei, J. (2006) Child language: a resource book for students. Routledge.

Further information