Course Descriptions-Modern Languages - Carnegie Mellon University

Core Course Descriptions

  1. Second Language Acquisition: Theories and Research (82-783) [9 units]

    This course introduces students to the field of second language acquisition (SLA) in order to provide them with an understanding of the way in which second languages are learned and acquired. The course will survey various theories of second language acquisition (e.g., Innateness and Universal Grammar, Connectionism, Input/Output, socio-cultural theory, emergentism), and their claims will be examined in the light of recent research findings. The course will also examine the impact of internal and external variables on second language acquisition and development. Some topics include: the role of learning environment for language acquisition, explanations for different success among second language learners, variations in second language use, and the effect of classroom instruction in second language acquisition.
  2. Teaching Methodologies for the Foreign Language Classroom (82-793) [9 units]

    This course includes a survey of pedagogical theory and practice in foreign and second language instruction, with a primary emphasis on American contexts, but with some intercultural components where applicable (traditional language instruction in classrooms in Germany or China, for example, and how those conventions might affect learner perception of contemporary American practice). Methodologies surveyed might include grammar-based instruction, the audio-lingual method, Total Physical Response, topical-functional architectures, communicative, constructivist, and interactionist approaches. The course is taught in tandem with 82-893 Teaching Modern Languages and Cultures (see below) which allows for multiple observations of experienced teachers in different target-language contexts.
  3. Teaching Modern Languages and Cultures I (82-893) [9 units]

    This course is intended to be taken in tandem with Teaching Methodologies for the Foreign Language Classroom. Students will initially prioritize observation and analysis of the pedagogical techniques of multiple teachers in several languages at the elementary level. In a second phase, students will select a cooperating teacher to shadow in their language of specialization and prepare and deliver one or more lessons based on curricular needs. Classroom meetings will be dedicated to sharing and critiquing of lesson plans in the context of the targeted curricula, as well as to presentations by program faculty to help students prepare for the professional requirements of the field.
  4. Teaching Modern Languages and Cultures II (82-894) [9 units]

    This course will allow for a semester-long experience working in tandem with a single teacher in the language of specialization, including review of syllabus/curriculum design, teaching philosophy and techniques, lesson planning, and integration of appropriate media and technologies. The student will be asked both to deliver instruction based on the existing syllabus and to create and deliver a new module appropriate for the level and focus of the class. This practicum is designed to build on the teaching experience of the first semester practicum, and the course assignment is determined in consultation with the Program Advisor and faculty in the language area of specialization.
  5. Language Acquisition and Technology (82-888) [9 units]

    Language Acquisition and Technology is a course that surveys technologies currently in use in language instruction, and will be delivered using an important subset of those technologies under student management. The course consists primarily of four components: 1) creating digital media and integrating it into instruction; 2) creating and deploying learning objects based on principles derived from instructional design and second language acquisition; 3) managing technology in an instructional environment; 4)  evaluating existing technology-based learning objects and applications. Primary outcomes will be based in each of these four categories and include produced media, language courseware, technology training experience, and a publishable review.

Elective Course List

Note: The elective list is intended to offer the potential for students with primary interest in any of the four program foci (SLA, Language Pedagogy, Cultural Studies, Technology-Enhanced Learning) to do further study in that area of interest, or to branch out into language-related courses in other disciplines, especially in psychology and linguistics.

  • Individual Differences in Second Language Learning (82-889, ML)
  • Understanding Second Language Fluency (83-388/878, ML)
  • Second Language Acquisition in a Study Abroad Context (82-488, ML)
  • Language Theories (76-836, English)
  • History, Theory, and Practice of Writing Instruction (76-824, English)
  • Language and Culture (76-786, English)
  • Communicating in the Global Marketplace (76-718, English)
  • Linguistic Analysis (80-280, Philosophy)
  • Phonetics and Phonology (80-282, Philosophy)
  • Syntax and Discourse (80-283, Philosophy)
  • Language and Thought (85-721, Psychology)
  • On-Line and Distance Learning (91-839, Heinz School)
  • Integrating Technology into the Curriculum (91-840, Heinz School, Spring of even years)
  • Technology Goals, Instruction and Assessment (91-835, Heinz School)
  • Undergraduate courses with an appropriate regional or national focus in the Department of History may be taken with advisor permission and in consultation with the course instructor (e.g. Modern China, 20th Century Germany, Recent U.S. History 1945-Present, Bananas, Baseball, and Borders: A History of Latin America - US Relations, French History: From the Revolution to DeGaulle).
  • Other graduate-level courses in Cultural Studies, Linguistics, Education, and Educational Technology at the University of Pittsburgh are also open to program enrollees.