First Language Acquisition and Language Impairment


Course Objective

To gather knowledge of linguistic theories and research methodologies
involving language acquisition and language disorders. To develop basic
skills in coding and analyzing child language data and to learn how to
cope with the methodological difficulties of child language research
(developing a test and recruiting a child to participate in the test).
To become familiar with language assessment materials and to be able to
critically assess them. To be able to translate analyses of child
language data into advices for parents. To be able to gather information
from handbooks on child language acquisition and to critically read
research articles on this topic.

Course Content

In this course, we study the phases that every child goes through when
acquiring his or her first language. It is amazing to see how children
all over the world build up their language system in similar ways as
they start out, and how they grow apart more and more as they develop
more complex language skills in the typologically different languages of
the world. We study the theories that try to explain how it is possible
that an average four-year-old is quite fluent in his or her own
language(s) while it takes adults years and years to learn a (new)
language. We also study the language development of children with a
developmental language disorder. These children experience
difficulties in acquiring certain aspects of their own language.
Sometimes the cause of these difficulties is obvious, for instance in
children with hearing loss, and sometimes we don’t know what causes
these difficulties. We will also study the theories that try to explain
the causes of these disorders. Furthermore, we will collect, study and
analyze child language data, both manually and automatized. You will
also be trained in giving advice to parents who worry about the language
development of their child and you will develop and study materials for
language assessment.

Teaching Methods

Period 5: one lecture (two hours) and one linguistic lab (two hours) per
week and in period 6: two seminars (four hours in total) per week.
Attendance at seminars and linguistic labs is obligatory. You must have
attended at least 80% of these classes, otherwise you will have to do an
assignment or extra assignments.

Method of Assessment

Written exam with open questions and multiple choice questions. You will
only be allowed to take part in the exam if you have handed in all
assignments (analysis of child language data, lab assignments and

Entry Requirements

You must have participated in the course Introduction to linguistics
(code L_AABACIW103) or an equivalent course at another university.


Ambridge, B. & V.M. Lieven (2011). Child Language Acquisition.
Contrasting Theoretical Approaches. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Verhoeven, L. & van Balkom, H. (2004). Classification of Developmental
Language Disorders. Theoretical Issues and Clinical Implications.
Mahwah, NJ/Londen: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Target Audience

BA 1 students in Communication and Information Studies (specialization:
Language Learning and Language Teaching);
All other students interested in the topic who meet the requirements of
the course.

General Information

Course Code L_AABACIW111
Credits 6 EC
Period P5+6
Course Level 100
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator dr. P.H.F. Bos
Examiner dr. P.H.F. Bos
Teaching Staff drs. E. Akkerman
dr. P.H.F. Bos

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: