Germanic Languages | The Acquisition of German as a First and as a Second Language
G540 | 2602 | Rex Sprouse
G540 The Acquisition of German as a First and as a Second Language
Prerequisites: None. In particular, neither knowledge of German nor
any specific background in linguistics is a prerequisite for this
This course introduces students to the recent scholarly literature on
the acquisition of German as a first and as a second language,
primarily focusing on the acquisition of clause structure. In the
process, the course also treats broader theoretical and methodological
issues in first and second language acquisition research. In
particular, the course will address the following three basic research
(1) To what extent does clause structure in early child
German obey the same principles as adult German clause structure?
(2) Is adult second language acquisition guided by the
same cognitive mechanisms as native language acquisition?
(3) Which elements of the native language grammar transfer
to the initial state of second language acquisition?
In the first part of the course, the class will systematically read
selected chapters of O'Grady's 1997 book on child language acquisition
together with recent articles on the acquisition of German clause
structure by young children. In the second part of the course, we will
turn to the acquisition of German as a second language by older
children and adults with a variety of native languages (English,
Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Turkish, and Korean). Time permitting,
we will also examine transcripts of naturalistic production by both
children and adults acquiring German. White's 1989/1995 book will
serve as general background reading for second-language acquisition
theory, and Cook & Newson's 1996 book will serve as a
student-friendly, accessible reference for key concepts in the
syntactic framework in which many of the articles studied in both
parts of the course are written.
Students will submit a final course paper and give a thirty-minute
class presentation based on it. There will be an in-class "Almost
Final" exam near the end of the semester.
Class participation 25%
"Almost Final" exam 25%
Course paper and presentation 50%
Cook, V.J. & Mark Newson (1996) Chomsky's Universal Grammar: An
Introduction. Second edition. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
O'Grady, William (1997) Syntactic Development. Chicago: Chicago
White, Lydia (1989/1995) Universal Grammar and Second Language
Acquisition. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
articles on reserve in BH 643.