PUFS index

Pusan University of Foreign Studies

TESOL Program

Second Language Acquisition Syllabus 2003



Course Title: Second Language Acquisition

Location : TESOL Unit, Pusan University of Foreign Studies

Semester: December 9, 2003 to February 21, 2004

Credit: 3 Units

Faculty : Thor May


Course Description :

The Second Language Acquisition unit of the PUFS TESOL program has these goals: a) to survey what SLA research can contribute to effective classroom teaching and learning; b) to awaken teachers to a range of alternative approaches in language teaching, and their rationales; c) to deepen teacher understanding of how language learners acquire a second language, in and out of the classroom.

Second Language Acquisition is considered quite selectively in this course. The perspective here is one of teacher relevance and application, rather than a comprehensive survey of research in the field. Much SLA study has been motivated by an interest in human cognition itself rather than actual classroom practice, and the transference of new insights to real world classrooms has been limited. The TESOL program therefore balances information about research results with an active discussion of how they might (or might not) be applicable to learning English in Korea.

The course progresses from a number of core questions. What has SLA research discovered about teaching grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary and writing ? What parts of the language teacher's normal repertoire has SLA research overlooked? What can SLA research tell us about the mental processes involved in using L2, or in using L1 and L2 together? How does language learning differ amongst individuals, by age, by culture, and so on? What are the important differences between learning L2 inside a classroom and outside of a classroom? What does Korean culture really expect of its L2 speakers, and does SLA research give us hints about how this might be achieved? What are some of the main models that SLA research has revolved around? What are the assumptions behind some popular methods of ESL teaching, and how have they related (if at all) to various models of SLA research?

Course Objectives

A student who successfully completes the SLA unit should have improved understanding in these areas :

  • An awareness that L2 can be acquired in numerous ways, any of which may be best for particular learners according to their aptitudes, social situation and stage in learning the language.

  • An awareness that the teacher must strive to keep in mind a wide variety of options to help students reach their learning objectives, and be ready to adapt insights from SLA research (and any other credible source) to meet those learning objectives.

  • A broad knowledge of what research has contributed to particular aspects of language teaching, such as teaching grammar.

  • A knowledge of where and how to keep track of the main trends in SLA research, as they affect teaching.

  • The principle is that language teaching is not a simple set of mastery skills, but a profession where the practitioner must update her knowledge throughout her career.

  • An appreciation of the value to both students and the teacher of "grassroots" research in SLA, undertaken by the teacher herself for the purpose of understanding what is actually happening in her classroom.
  • An active and critical engagement with the ongoing public debate in South Korea about second language learning, second language teaching, and how second languages can or should fit into the Korean universe.


    Weekly quiz 25% (five short questions per week, usually based on the previous week's lecture content)

    Essay assignment 25% (the first draft, worth 10% of the essay total, is due in Week 6; the final draft is due in Week 9).

    Examination 50% (this written examination will be held in the last week of the semester. It will be designed to test the student's understanding of content delivered during the course, and mastery of the skill objectives outlined in the syllabus).

    Assessment rationale : The weekly quiz is a form of continuous assessment. Experience has shown that such quizzes, although unloved at first, are a very effective way to focus students' minds on the course content, and to clear up any confused ideas which may have arisen during lectures. The project assignment is an opportunity for the student to show initiative in developing her own learning by going beyond course materials, interpreting ideas from a variety of sources, and applying those ideas to real issues. The examination is intended to help the student review and integrate the course content as a whole in her own mind. It also provides an objective instrument for external auditors (such as other universities) to measure the kind of learning which has really taken place during the course.


    Academic Standards

    The PUFS TESOL Program is cross-credited to Masters courses in America and elsewhere. This means that international best practice must apply to course standards.

    In written assignments, all borrowed ideas must give a full reference for the source . That is, the student must show the author, page number, article name, journal or book name, publisher and date. Quotations should be in quotation marks. Models for doing this correctly can be found in most academic books and journals. Plagiarism (claiming other people's ideas & writing as your own) will be penalized according to university policy. This would normally include a 0% grade for the assignment, and further measures for repeated offences.

    The lecturer has a computer program specially designed to check for plagiarism, as well as his own professional knowledge and experience. He understands that course students who speak English as a second language are likely to have certain kinds of language errors in their writing.


    Course Text Books :

    Assigned text :

    Cook, Vivian 2001 Second Language Learning and Language Teaching (3rd edition), published NY: OUP, London: Arnold

    Recommended reading :

    Douglas Brown, H. 2000 Principles of Language Learning and Teaching, published N.Y: Pearson

    Ellis, Rod 1994, 1997 The Study of Second Language Acquisition, published Oxford: OUP

    Skehan, Peter 1998 A Cognitive Approach to Language Learning, published Oxford: OUP

    Scovel, Tom 2001 Learning New Languages - A Guide to Second Language Acquisition, published Boston: Newbury House


    Other materials as mentioned in lectures