On the Connecticut River
« All Posts by this Blogger
Moore Hall, an academic building at Dartmouth College

I was on track to finish my linguistics major without taking Language Acquisition, but as I'm finishing my time at Dartmouth, I'm still finding myself wanting to take every linguistics I can with my free class slots. I've also always wanted to take an education class at Dartmouth, making this cross-listed course perfect for my third course this winter! This was my first class with Prof. Wray and my first class in the Education department, so I did not know what to expect. However, I've liked it a lot so far and would definitely recommend it!

LING/EDUC 15 dives into an aspect of linguistics that I haven't covered extensively in any other course here at Dartmouth: how children develop language. Prof. Wray stresses at the beginning of the class that language acquisition and language learning are two different things: acquisition is, on some level, subconscious and/or unintentional. This course, therefore, focuses primarily on the acquisition process that happens in childhood, whether that's L1 (first language) acquisition or otherwise. 

Over these past several weeks, we've covered phonological, lexical, morphological, and syntactic development, as well as one of the biggest controversies in the field: language innateness. Are we born with an internal "device" of some sort to acquire language, or does language develop more as a result of social input and behavioral factors? Why not both, we might ask? Cognitive scientists and linguists are still trying to figure it out, but we've enjoyed investigating it in this class. 

For our final project, we get to write a study proposal on the language acquisition-related topic of our choice. I'm particularly interested in school language immersion programs and the effect of a student's age when starting an immersion program on ultimate vocabulary size and/or general linguistic proficiency. I've read some pretty cool studies so far, so we'll see where that proposal takes me! Or maybe I'll change my topic entirely. Who's to say? In any case, I'd recommend this class to just about anyone, even if you're not particularly into linguistics—there's so much material around human development that I think anyone would find fascinating.

Posts You Might Like