LG 376 Second Language Acquisition

Instructor:       Sakol Suethanapornkul
Email:              suesakol@tu.ac.th
Office hours:  T & TH from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Room:             Online Synchronous Sessions via Zoom
Time:               TH 9:30-12:30
Credits:           3/48 hours

The course syllabus provides a general plan for the course; some modifications may be necessary in response to students’ needs and classroom interaction.

This course is based on similar courses taught by Dr. Lourdes Ortega at Georgetown University and Dr. Brandon Tullock at University of South Florida.

Course Description

Multilingualism, the knowledge and use of more than one language by individuals and groups, is as old as humanity itself. Second language acquisition (SLA) is the scholarly field that investigates the human capacity to learn languages other than the first in late childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. This course will examine various sources of influences on the learning of additional languages later in life. These include–among other things–age, crosslinguistic influence, the linguistic environment, cognition, the development of learner language, and motivation and affect. We will situate SLA within a larger context of bilingualism and multilingualism. Successful completion of LG 211 Introduction to Linguistics (with C or above) is required in order to enroll in this course.


Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you should be able to do the following:

  1. identify major themes, questions, issues, and hypotheses in SLA;
  2. summarize, synthesize, and evaluate reports of SLA research;
  3. replicate an existing study in SLA and report on the project’s findings; and
  4. improve and refine your scholarly writing and presentation skills.


Classroom-based Expectations

  1. Attend class and participate in class discussions
  • Attendance is required at all classes.
  • Participation is crucial to the educational effectiveness of the course.
  • You are responsible for the materials covered and homework assigned during any absence.
  1. Complete all readings and assignments on time.
  • You are expected to compete the readings before each class meeting so that you will be prepared to participate in group work and discussions.
  • You are also expected to submit each assignment or homework punctually.
  • Only in medical or personal emergencies will late work be accepted. Communicate with me early if you anticipate having trouble completing any assignment in a timely manner.
  1. Plagiarism is not tolerated.
  • Plagiarizing other people’s work in an assignment results in an automatic zero for that assignment.
  1. Follow APA guidelines for all written assignments.


Course Organization

Course management is done through this course website and Microsoft Teams. You can obtain course materials (syllabus, and slides) from this website. Course readings, assignment submissions, class announcements, and grades will be handled through Teams.


Ortega, L. (Revised version). Understanding second language acquisition. [USLA for short]

The following readings will also be used in class:

  • De Houwer, A. (2020). Early bilingualism. In C.A. Chapelle (Ed.) The concise encyclopedia of applied linguistics (pp. 405–413). Wiley Blackwell.
  • Ioup, G., Boustagoui, E., Tigi, M., & Moselle, M. (1994). Reexamining the critical period hypothesis: A case of successful adult SLA in a naturalistic environment. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 16, 73–98.
  • Supasiraprapa, S. (2019). Frequency effects on first and second language compositional phrase comprehension and production. Applied Psycholinguistics, 40, 987–1017.
  • Thompson, A. S., & Vasquez, C. (2015). Exploring motivational profiles through language learning narratives. Modern Language Journal, 99, 158–174.


Assignments and Grading

Grading scale:

In this course, I assign grades based on how well students perform. The grading scheme outlines key letter grades:

Grades Points Grades Points
A 85-100% C 65-69.99
B+ 80-84.99 D+ 60-64.99
B 75-79.99 D 55-59.99
C+ 70-74.99 F 0-54.99

Grade breakdown:

Requirements Percent Points Note
Participation 10%
Study synopses 20% 10 points each, 2 in total
In-class quizzes 20% 6/7 points each, 3 in total
‘Test your vocabulary’ 5% Homework assignment for class discussion
PsychoPy experiment 15% Script that runs a lexical decision task
Final collaborative project 35%

Assignment descriptions:

  1. Participation and attendance (10%)
  • The participation grade is determined by my impression of a student’s (a) productive and consistent contribution to class discussions and activities (e.g., commenting, questioning, relation to own experience), (b) conscientious collaboration with classmates on work inside and outside of class (e.g., shouldering one’s fair share of work during group projects, contributing to and being on task during group discussions), and (c) attendance and punctuality.
  • There is no such thing as an excused absence in this course, expect in instances where documentation from a health professional or university administrator is provided explaning the absence.
  1. Two study synopses (20%)
  • You will be asked to summarize two (2) empirical studies of SLA/Bilingualism that we read throughout the semester, each in a one-page synopsis format. The goals of this assignment are: (a) to help you read with an eye for the underlying structure of the research reports, (b) to help you deepen your understanding of the readings, and (c) hopefully, to foster this kind of synthetic note-taking strategy in other readings that you do for the final project and other readings in class.
  1. In-class quizzes (20%)
  • You will complete three (3) open-book quizzes, interspersed throughout the semester. Each quiz is designed to assess your understanding of reading materials assigned for that particular week and will take place at the beginning of the class, from 9:30 to 9:45 am. Check the schedule for each quiz. There will be no makeup quiz.
  1. ‘Test your vocabulary’ (5%)
  • This is a short assignment to bring to class on Week 9, when we read about vocabulary and memory. You will take a vocabulary test and come to class with your results and be prepared to discuss them.
  1. PsychoPy experiment (15%)
  • This assignment is collaborative and should be carried out in groups of three (3) people. You will create a lexical decision task experiment in PsychoPy. This experiment script should contain (a) task instructions, (b) practice session, (c) main task component, and (d) debriefing. You will use this experiment to collect data from your participants and the information you obtain will be reported in your group’s final collaborative project. In the second half of the course, we will learn how to build a lexical decision task using PsychoPy Builder.
  1. Final collaborative project (35%)
  • The final project builds on the PsychoPy experiment assignment; thus, it is necessary that you work with the same group of people. The project will give you the opportunity to develop your academic research and writing skill as you replicate an existing study in SLA. The final project is divided into three smaller parts:

    • Project references (5%)

      • For this one-page assignment, you will develop a list of references based in part on Supasiraprapa’s (2019) study. Your reference list must include two or more articles published since 2019 and contain both theoretical papers in SLA as well as empirical studies. The reference list should conform to APA format and stay within a one-page limit. This assignment will provide the basis of the literature review for your final paper.
    • Draft submission of your final project (15%)

      • By April 21, your group should submit a working draft of the final collaborative project that contains the following:
        • A provisional title of your project
        • A literature review outlining key issues in your replication study
        • Overarching research question(s)
        • An outline of the method and results section
    • Written final submission (15%)

      • Excluding references, the final paper should be approximately 6 pages. It must be typed in 12-point font and double-spaced with 1-inch margins. All in-text citations and references must follow APA format. The paper should read as a single coherent piece of writing, with title, an introductory overview, a presentation of method and results, an overall conclusion, and a reference list. Criteria for assessment will be provided later in the course.


Class Schedule

Weeks Dates Topics Readings Assignments
1 01/13/22 Introduction to the course
[Class 1, Worksheet 1]
2 01/20/22 Defining SLA
[Class 2, APA Worksheet]
USLA (1.1, 1.3, 1.4)
De Houwer (2020, p.405–407)
3 01/27/22 Age [1]
[Class 3]
USLA (Sec. 2.1, 2.2, 2.4)
Ioup et al. (1994)
[Study synopsis practice]
4 02/03/22 Age [2]
Transfer [1]
[Class 4]
USLA (Sec. 2.5 and 2.7)
USLA (Sec. 3.1–3.3)
Quiz 1 at start of class
5 02/10/22 Transfer [2]
[Class 5]
USLA (Sec. 3.4, 3.6, 3.10, 3.11)
6 02/17/22 Linguistic environment [1]
[Class 6]
USLA (Sec. 4.2, 4.3, 4.5, 4.6) Quiz 2 at start of class
7 02/24/22 Linguistic environment [2]
[Class 7]
USLA (Sec. 4.7, 4.8)
Supasiraprapa (2019)
Synopsis 1: Supasiraprapa (2019)
8 03/03/22 Mid-term examination week
9 03/10/22 Cognition [1]
[Class 9]
USLA (Sec. 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4)
10 03/17/22 Cognition [2]
Installing PsychoPy
[Class 10, Lab 1]
USLA (Sec. 5.5, 5.6, 5.7, 5.8) Quiz 3 at start of class
11 03/24/22 Cognition [3]
PsychoPy [1]
[Class 11, Lab 2, Stimuli.zip]
USLA (Sec. 5.12, 5.13, 5.14, 5.16) Bring ‘Test your vocabulary’ results to class
12 03/31/22 Learner language [1]
PsychoPy [2]
[Class 12, Lab 3, Resources.zip]
USLA (Sec. 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5) Turn in Reference list
13 04/07/22 Learner language [2] USLA (Sec. 6.7, 6.9, 6.10, 6.13) Turn in PsychoPy Experiment
14 04/14/22 Songkran Holiday week
15 04/21/22 Affect Synopsis 2: Thompson & Vasquez (2015)
16 04/28/22 Social context Turn in draft submission of final paper
17 05/05/22 Course wrap-up Turn in final paper on 05/15