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Principles of Language Learning for TESOL

Module titlePrinciples of Language Learning for TESOL
Module codeEFPM266
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Esmaeel Abdollahzadeh (Lecturer)

Dr Gabriela Meier (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

In this module we discuss and critically evaluate language learning theories that developed over the last 100 years or so, and highlight key issues that are relevant to our field today. While its emphasis is on learning a second, other or additional language, we also draw on theories about first language learning. The module clearly focuses on language learning, however, it also discusses what implications these insights have on teaching. Participants are invited to reflect on their own language learning and teaching in the light of the theories presented. The seminar uses various methods to facilitate engagement with the module content: brief lecture style presentations, question and answer, group discussions, pair discussion, student presentations, discussion of relevant articles, concept maps, poster presentations, etc. The participants are given guidance of how to prepare for each seminar and they are invited to actively participate.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is:

•    to critically review foundational concepts in second language learning theories;

•    to provide an overview of the current debate on key issues in second language learning research;

•    to enable participants to engage in critical analysis and discussion of an area of study in second language learning;

•    to enable participants to consider critically the application of current research in language learning to language teaching practice.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate a critical understanding of linguistic and cognitive perspectives of second language acquisition, including language transfer and processing; input, interaction & output; and individual differences;
  • 2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of social and cultural perspectives of second language learning, including mediated learning and scaffolding; community of practice and L2 socialisation; culture and identity;
  • 3. Demonstrate the ability to apply the critical understandings of above different theoretical perspectives to the development of TESOL pedagogic practices.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. demonstrate an ability to apply course input to their own and their peers' teaching and learning situations;
  • 5. demonstrate an awareness of how their own students might approach learning;
  • 6. demonstrate an ability to evaluate the success or otherwise of different teaching strategies in particular situations;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Demonstrate an ability to study effectively independently and in groups, including the presentation of materials for group and class discussion;
  • 8. demonstrate an ability to digest, select and organize material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and thoughtful analysis of theory applied to professional and cultural situations;
  • 9. demonstrate an ability to take responsibility and carry out agreed tasks;
  • 10. demonstrate an ability to study independently in group/pair work;
  • 11. demonstrate an ability to create a presentation of materials for group and class discussion.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

An overview of key debates and issues in second language learning theory

A short history of second language learning theory mentalist versus behavioural perspectives

Interaction and language processing (the Interactionist perspective)

Sociocultural theory and mediated learning (socio-cognitive perspective)

Multilingualism and language learning

Language learning strategies and learning styles

Language learning motivation and anxiety

Identity and second language learning

Language learning as participation and socialization

Conclusion: recap, Q+A, assignment briefing, discussion of essay topics 

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Learning and teaching activities30lectures, seminars and tutorials
Learning and teaching activities20pre-session tasks
guided independent study80assignment preparation
guided independent study170directed/self-directed reading


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Introduction and outline 1000 words 1, 2; 4, 5, 6 ,7, 8, 9written feedback
Oral presentation1,000 words equivalent1,2,3;4,5,6; 7, 9, 10, 11Peer and tutor feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Assignment1005,500 words 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 written comment


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
AssignmentResubmission of assignment1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,96 weeks


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Atkinson, D., (2011) Alternative approaches to second language acquisition. Abingdon: Routledge.

Block, D. (2003). The social turn in second language acquisition. Washington: Georgetown University Press.

Block, D. (2003) The social turn in second language acquisition. Washington: Georgetown University Press. 

Block, D. (2007). Second language identities. London: Continuum.

Breen, M. P. (2001). Learner contributions to language learning. Harlow: Longman.

Cohen, A. D., & Macaro, E. (Eds.). (2007). Language learner strategies: Thirty years of research and practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cook, V. and Singleton, D. (2014) Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. 

Dörnyei,  Z. (2011). Teaching and researching motivation (2 nd Ed). Harlow: Longman.

Dörnyei, Z. (2009). The psychology of second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R. (2008). Second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gao, X. (2010). Strategic language learning: The roles of agency and context. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Norton, B. (2000). Identity and language learning. Harlow: Longman.

May, S. (2014) The multilingual turn: Implications for SLA, TESOL and Bilingual Education. Abingdon: Routledge.  

Papi, M. and Abdollahzadeh, E. (2010).  An Observational Examination of L2 Motivational Strategies: The Iranian EFL Context.  Language Learning, 61, 1-24. 

Richards, J.J. and Schmidt, R. (2010) Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics (4th Ed). Harlow: Longman .  

Toth, Zsuzsa (2010) Foreign Language Anxiety and the Advanced Language Learner. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars. 

Weber, J.-J. & Horner, K. (2012) Introducing Multilingualism: A social Approach. Abingdon: Routledge.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Web CT resource platform including PowerPoints, research papers and interactive tasks.

ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages


Module has an active ELE page

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Journals (examples):

English Language Teaching (ELT) Journal

Int. Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

Language and Education

Language and Intercultural Communication

Language Learning

Language, Identity, and Education

Modern English Teacher (MET)

Modern Language Journal


TESOL Quarterly

Key words search

Second language learning, second-language acquisition, TESOL, SLA, EAL, EFL, ESL

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

Experience as a teacher of English as a second language.

Module co-requisites

EFPM267 Language Awareness for TESOL

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Last revision date