• Offered by School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Linguistics
  • Areas of interest Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

By the time children are 3 years old, they know about 3,000 words; they can formulate complex sentences; and they can produce all the sounds of their own language. How do they do this? This course will seek to answer these questions and more. It will survey the central themes in language acquisition. It will focus on all the stages in acquisition from the babbling infant up to the pre-school child. This course is relevant not only for linguists, but also for psychologists, educators and anyone interested in child development.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to

  1. Assess the level of language ability for a young child by listening to naturally occurring examples of young children talking.
  2. Explain, and argue for, how children learn their first language in terms of phonology, morphosyntax, semantics, interaction and caretaker's input.
  3. Critically evaluate various language acquisition theories.
  4. Think about, write and present an argument using evidence and results from previous child language research.

Other Information

This class is co-taught with postgraduate students LING6521.

Indicative Assessment

Assessment consists of:

  • A critical essay 1500 words (30%) [Learning Outcomes 3,4]
  • Phonological analysis of a child's language 750 words (15%) [Learning Outcomes 1,2,4]
  • Morpho-syntactic analysis of a child's language 750 words (15%) [Learning Outcomes 1,2,4]
  • Data analysis assignment 2,500 words (40%) [Learning Outcomes 1,2,4] due in the exam period.

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from: a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorials; b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed LING1001 or LING2001. Alternatively you may gain permission of the Course Convener to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts

Gleason, J. B. (ed) (2009) The Development of Language. 7th Edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon

Preliminary Reading

Wardhaugh, Ronald (1993) How do we learn a language? Investigating Language: Central Problems in Linguistics, Basil Blackwell: Oxford

O'Grady (2005) How Children Learn Language. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge

Students will be given a full reading list at the beginning of the semester. Journals that publish child language acquisition research include, First Language, Journal of Child Language, Language Acquisition, Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour.

Assumed Knowledge

This course introduces students to child language acquisition. Students will need to have some understanding of linguistics (particularly an understanding of phonetics and syntax) before enrolling in this course.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $2820
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $4320
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

There are no current offerings for this course.

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