Carnegie Mellon University

Core Course Descriptions

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 differences in success among second language learners, variations in second language use, and the effect of classroom instruction on second language acquisition.

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 and 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; and 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.

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 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.

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 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.

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, and (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.

Topic in Applied SLA: Chinese Foreign Language Teaching (82-732/495, required for CFL) [9 units]

This course exposes students to current professional practices and common situations related to teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL). It will provide an overview of CFL research, teaching and learning with demonstrations of CFL pedagogical issues, applications and solutions. It is intended to help students become familiar with specific CFL issues arising from the special characteristics of the Chinese language, including tones, a character-based writing system, and special Chinese grammatical structures. Students will be able to apply course material to their CFL teaching and research, and feel more comfortable and adaptable in their CFL professional careers.

Topic in Applied SLA: Issues in TESOL (82-732/495, required for ESL/TESOL) [9 units]

In this course, students will receive a broad overview of the pedagogic and sociocultural issues that Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) instructors encounter in classrooms today, in a variety of contexts. Students will gain in-depth knowledge of the state of the art in TESOL today. Students will be required to familiarize themselves with and be prepared to discuss issues in TESOL, including but not limited to methodology, teacher education, the role of culture and intercultural communication, and specific challenges, such as modifying course content to focus on academic language. The course will be conducted as a seminar with students completing readings outside class and engaging in reflection through class discussions and electronic discussion forums. The main assignments for the course will be case histories of diverse populations of students, and a final annotated bibliography. Students will gain in-depth knowledge of the state of the art in TESOL today.

Elective Course List

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 (82-388/878, ML)
  • Second Language Acquisition in a Study Abroad Context (82-488, ML)
  • Qualitative Methods in SLA (82-885, ML)
  • Pragmatics and Second Language Acquisition (82-888, ML)
  • Implicit and Explicit Language Learning (82-888, ML)
  • Second Language Reading (82-888, ML)
  • Analysis of Language in a Global Context (82-770, ML)
  • Tutoring for Community Outreach (82-781/281, ML)
  • Sociocultural Theory and L2 Development (82-888, ML)
  • East Asian Psycholinguistics (82-888/585, ML)
  • Pragmatics Development (82-888, ML)
  • Language Variation and SLA (82-888, ML)
  • Cultural Studies Elective - Graduate Level (82-701 & 82-702, 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)
  • Language and Thought (85-721, Psychology)
  • Meaning and Language (80-681, Philosophy)
  • Words and Word Formation: Introduction to Morphology (80-786, Philosophy)

University of Pittsburgh graduate courses are available through cross-registration. Some examples of available courses in Instruction and Learning (IL) and Linguistics (Ling):

  • Language and Language Systems (IL 2203)
  • Theory and Practice in Teaching New Media and Literacies (IL 2239)
  • Principles and Practice of Foreign Language Testing and Assessment (IL 2253)
  • Technology in Foreign Language Education (IL 2250)
  • Teaching English Language Learners (IL 2257)
  • Sociolinguistics (Ling 2267)
  • Phonetics And Phonemics (Ling 2578)
  • Discourse Analysis (Ling 2761)
  • Introduction to Semantic Theory (Ling 2862)
  • Morphology (Ling 2773)
  • Introduction to Historical Linguistics (Ling 2860)