Each theory of language acquisition mediates research, reflection, and critical assessment in a particular way, guiding and constraining conceptualizations of what language is and how we learn it. This course will review and critically analyze the historical and epistemological context of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theories from the latter half of the 20th century to the present. The course will expose students to a broad range of theoretical constructs for the purpose of better understanding the current approaches. The first part of the class will cover: contrastive analysis, interlanguage, creative construction hypothesis, Universal Grammar, interactionalist, cognitive and socio-psychological approaches. In the second part of the class we will examine various manifestations of the social turn in SLA: sociocultural theory, language socialization, and postructuralist approaches to SLA. Readings include influential texts representing each of these stances and illustrative work guiding data collection, analysis and interpretation. Whenever possible, we will strive to read texts of mainly historical interest in the original. Students may anticipate deriving from this course a general understanding of the professional landscape of second language acquisition research as well as an appreciation of the ways in which current debates in the field are epistemologically grounded.

Course Objectives

Throughout the semester students will engage in a range of theoretical, pedagogical, and reflective activities that will enable them to:

1) understand the historical importance and epistemological differences in SLA theories and how these stances inform teaching and learning practices in the field

2) recognize the highly situated and interpretative processes involved in second language acquisition/learning and be able to reflect on, critically analyze, and evaluate their own language teaching and learning experiences

3) become sensitive to the complex social, cultural, and historical factors that affect Second Language Acquisition

4) use their knowledge of theory to inform their choices of teaching and research critically evaluate SLA theories critically analyze and discuss current research conducted in the areas of SLA

5) critically evaluate SLA theories 

6) critically analyze and discuss current research conducted in the areas of SLA

Supervised writing, with emphasis on clearness, correctness, conciseness, completeness, and appropriate tone; practice in organizing paragraphing, sentence structure, word choice, grammar, and punctuation. Purpose: The purpose of this course is to teach students how to plan, write, and produce formal technical reports, memo reports, and other short technical documents commonly written by technical and business professionals in a wide variety of workplace settings.

Course Objectives and Student Learning Outcomes:

Upon successfully completing this course students should be able to complete the following tasks:

By the conclusion of this course the student should be able to:

  • define technical writing.
  • identify audience and purpose by evaluating and analyzing various models of technical writing.
  • define and apply the proper format and language to a technical document for each audience
  • Examine sources in his/her field for relevance and credibility
  • use numerous research sources such as the library, the Internet, interviews, surveys in order to produce and support credible documents.
  • collaborate in teams using process in order to compose and produce technical writing projects.
  • identify what formal rules for writing govern his/her discipline.
  • learn and apply formal rules for writing as required in this class.
  • organize and present arguments effectively [written and oral].
  • avoid plagiarism through proper use of paraphrasing, quoting, attributions and documentation.
  • formally present projects in class [written, visual, oral].
  • identify legal and ethical issues in technical writing.
  • edit one’s own work and the work of peers for content, organization, style, and mechanics.
  • produce competent versions of most common workplace document types and understand how to adapt them to serve specific informational and rhetorical purposes.
  • employ an effective writing process involving analysis of the rhetorical situation; discovery and development of ideas; and arrangement, drafting, revision, and editing of final documents.


Course topics and projects:  We will work with the following major topic areas during the semester: 

1.     Writing process in technical writing (purpose, audience, strategies)

2.     Elements of document design, analyzing documents

3.     Informative writing, describing and defining, arguing,

4.     Job related documents (resumés, cover letters, etc)

5.     Reports and proposals, abstracts, summaries,

6.     Ethics and legal issues in professional writing, plagiarism

7.     Oral presentations

Both individual and group projects or tasks will be used in approaching and discussing these topics, and the focus will be on identifying the communication problems present in a given situation and how best to resolve these problems.  Class writing will follow a process approach to writing.