Language Acquisition & Language Socialization
Tuesdays 4:00-6:30 pm; Bailey 110
Instructor Jennifer R. Guzmán, PhD
Office hours Bailey 108, Tuesday 2:15-3:45, Wednesday 1:00-2:30, and by appointment.
Feel free to visit office hours to discuss any questions you have about course
content, assignments, or your academic progress.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to email questions that can be answered
briefly. If you have a complex question or situation, please visit me during
office hours. I read e-mail Monday-Friday. Allow 1-2 days for a response.
When sending email, include ANTH 328 and a topic in the subject line.
Office Phone (585) 245-5174. I check the voicemail on this phone infrequently.
This course introduces students to the study of language acquisition from a sociocultural
perspective. We will explore processes related to the development of language skills
across the lifespan and will consider how patterns of language socialization within
communities impact the vitality of languages differently, leading some to expand and
others to contract, both in domain and speaker population. To understand these
intersecting issues, we will adopt a cross-disciplinary approach, reading scholarship from
anthropology, linguistics and applied linguistics, developmental psychology, and
education. In complement to this broad reading, students will employ observational and
discourse analytic techniques to learn to recognize and describe language used in both
informal and formal activities related to language development in the local community. As
an advanced course, a major objective of this course is for students to practice applying
theoretical knowledge about language acquisition to contemporary issues related to
linguistic diversity in globalized society.
Learning Outcomes As a result of participation in this class, students will:
• Be able to describe the most important theoretical models of first and second
• Gain familiarity with major debates in language acquisition theory and pedagogy
as well as in policies and initiatives related to language learning and teaching
• Develop critical reading and writing skills to engage with these debates
• Gain basic proficiency in observing and describing developmental language
• Recognize and be able to describe the relationship between language acquisition
processes and language shift
1. Lareau, Annette. Unequal Childhoods. University of California Press.
2. Paugh, Amy L. Playing with Languages: Children and Change in a Caribbean
Village. Berghahn Books.
3. Journal-style notebook that is different from the one where you take your class
4. All other readings will be posted to MyCourses
Please bring each day’s readings (and your notes about them) with you to class. We will
work with them regularly during class.
Other Recommended Books
o Baker, Colin. 2011. Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. 5th
edition. Multilingual Matters.
o Benor, Sarah Bunin. 2012. Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language
and Culture of Orthodox Judaism. Rutgers University Press.
o Fader, Ayala. 2009. Mitzvah Girls: Bringing Up the Next Generation of Hasidic
Girls in Brooklyn. Princeton University Press.
o García, Ofelia, Zeena Zakharia, Bahar Otcu (Editors). 2012. Bilingual Community
Education and Multilingualism: Beyond Heritage Languages in a Global City.
o Genesse, Fred, Kathryn Lindholm-Leary, William M. Saunders, and Donna
Christian (Editors). Educating English Language Learners: A Synthesis of Research
Evidence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
o Jacobs-Huey, Lanita. 2006. From the Kitchen to the Parlor: Language and
Becoming in African American Women's Hair Care. Oxford University Press.
o King, Kendall A., Natalie Schilling-Estes, Lyn Fogle, Jia Jackie Lou, and Barbara
Soukup (Eds.) 2008. Sustaining Linguistic Diversity: Endangered and Minority
Languages and Language Varieties. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.
o Kulick, Don. 1992. Language Shift and Cultural Reproduction. Cambridge
University Press. ISBN: 0-521-59926-1
o Meek, Barbra A. 2011. We Are Our Language: An Ethnography of Language
Revitalization in a Northern Athabaskan Community. University of Arizona Press.
o Mertz, Elizabeth. 2007. The Language of Law School: Learning to Think Like a
Lawyer. Oxford University Press.
o Ochs, Elinor. 1988. Culture and Language Development: Language Acquisition and
Language Socialization in a Samoan Village. Cambridge University Press.
o Richards, Jack C. and Theodore S. Rodgers. 2014. Approaches and Methods in
Language Teaching. 3rd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
o Schieffelin, Bambi B. 2005. The Give and Take of Everyday Life: Language
Socialization of Kaluli Children. Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 0-521-38654-3
o Wiley, Terrence G., Joy Kreeft Peyton, Donna Christian, Sarah Catherine K. Moore,
Na Liu (Editors). 2014. Handbook of Heritage, Community, and Native American
Languages in the United States: Research, Policy, and Educational Practice.
Routledge and the Center for Applied Linguistics.
o Zentella, Ana Celia. 1997. Growing Up Bilingual. Blackwell Publishers.
With some exceptions, each class session will include the following components: 1)
discussion of assigned readings, 2) lecture and instruction, 3) a hands-on task to apply
what we are learning, 4) student/group presentation(s), 5) learning journal writing
assignment, 6) a brief break.
1. Participation: as an upper-division elective, this class will be run much like a graduate
seminar. Consequently, your active and engaged participation is of utmost importance
to the success of the class, your own learning, and the learning of your peers. You are
expected to come to class on-time, stay for the entire class period, and be prepared to
discuss the assigned readings, present your findings from assignments you completed
outside class, and collaborate with your classmates on in-class tasks that apply what
we are learning. Sub-par participation (e.g. unexcused absences, tardiness, or
inconsistent contribution to class discussion) will result in a lower course grade.
2. Critical reading question responses: due by midnight on the day before class on
MyCourses. You should also have an electronic or hard copy of your response handy
for reference during class. There are 12 opportunities to turn in critical reading
responses during the semester. You must complete 11 of them (i.e. you may skip one).
Complete and timely responses will be graded on a strong / satisfactory / marginal / no
Satisfactory responses will:
a. Be submitted on time
b. Show evidence that you read the assigned article(s) / book chapters
c. Show comprehension of major arguments and concepts from the reading—
though it is expected and appropriate to comment on aspects of the reading that
were confusing or unclear for you.
Strong responses will go above and beyond providing a basic response to the
question, for example by tying in concepts and arguments from other readings we
have done during the semester or synthesizing ideas from the reading in an
innovative fashion. Marginal responses may be very brief and fail to show
evidence of thoughtful reading or comprehension of major concepts and
arguments. Late responses will receive no credit.
3. Ganondagan visit: as part of our learning about language acquisition when a linguistic
community is under duress we will take a field trip to the Ganondagan Cultural
Center. We will do our best to schedule the trip on a day when everyone is available.
However, if you cannot make it on the day of the class trip, you are responsible for
making a trip on your own time, watching the Iroquois Creation Story film that is
screened at the center, and submitting a one page reflection about what you learned
re: local indigenous language endangerment and revitalization.
4. Learning journal: over the course of the semester you will keep a journal with personal
reflections about your own learning process, questions that arise for you, and
assignment planning. The aim of the learning journal is to facilitate your self-reflection
and integration of ideas in a low-stakes situation. I will collect your journal at the end
of the semester for a grade, but the grade will be based on the thoughtfulness of your
entries, not on whether your responses were ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ Please buy a separate
notebook for your learning journal and bring it with you to every class.
5. Assignments: as described in the course schedule.
6. Final exam: During the last class session I will provide you with a a list of four possible
essay questions. The final exam will list three of these questions, and you will choose
two of the three to write responses to.
Grading Structure (by percentage of total grade)
Critical reading question responses
Assignments (field note I, developmental lg. description, transcript, field note II)
Grading: Grading for this class follows the standards for letter grading described in the
Geneseo Undergraduate Bulletin:
A / A- Excellent work
B+, B, B- Very good work
C / C+ Satisfactory work (note: work that fulfills all stipulated requirements
and is submitted on time may fall in this category)
C- Work demonstrating minimal competence
D Marginal work
E (failure) Inadequate work
Other possible grades are: P (pass), F (fail), S (satisfactory), U (unsatisfactory), and W
(withdrawn). Consult the Bulletin for details about these latter grades.
Accommodation: If you need classroom accommodations due to a documented or
suspected learning difference, please contact Dean Buggie-Hunt (email@example.com)
at the Office of Disability Services (ODS) and bring me a letter outlining the
accommodations you require. Do so as early as possible.
You are responsible for abiding by the SUNY Geneseo policies on academic honesty.
Here is a link. http://bulletin.geneseo.edu/first/?pg=01_Student_Affairs_policies.html
Readings and assignments are due on the date they are listed. Schedule subject to change
Dates to be determined:
1. Field trip to Ganondagan to see Iroquois Creation Story film & learn about local
indigenous language endangerment and revitalization efforts.
2. Story-time observation: Geneseo students host a storytelling event once a month
on a Friday 6:30-7:30. Once the schedule is set, I will share it with you, so you
can organize to attend on one occasion. Your task will be to observe the
interaction between adults and children and to write a field note that focuses on
the kind of language that adults modeled, the orientation to literacy, and the kinds
of responses that were solicited from children. Given the nature of the assignment,
there is no fixed ‘due date’ for your field note, but you need to turn it in to the
appropriate dropbox by the date of our last class session.
Sept 1 WELCOME & INTRODUCTIONS
Introductions & getting started - What is linguistic competence? How do we
develop it? What are the major language acquisition theories?
• In class: Ervin-Tripp. 1999. Acquisition. Journal of Linguistic
• In class: Files 8.0 What Is Language Acquisition? and 8.1 Theories of
Language Acquisition. Language Files. 11th edition.
Sept 8 FIRST LANGUAGE (L1) ACQUISITION
What skills does acquisition entail for understanding and producing sounds,
vocabulary, and grammar? What is the role of input in acquisition? How
does acquisition differ in one versus multiple languages?
• Selections from Chapter 8 of Language Files:
o File 8.2 First-Language Acquisition: The Acquisition of Speech
Sounds and Phonology
o File 8.3 First-Language Acquisition: The Acquisition of
Morphology, Syntax, and Word Meaning
o File 8.4 How Adults Talk to Young Children
o File 8.5 Bilingual Language Acquisition
• In class reading: Sidnell. 1999. Competence. Journal of Linguistic
• In class audio examples: Hulit & Howard. 2002. Born to Talk. 2nd ed.
Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Supplemental CD.
Sept 15 DEVELOPMENTAL GRAMMAR AND PRONUNCIATION
What are the stages we transition through from birth to full grammatical
competence in our first language(s)? What sorts of features and ‘errors’
characterize developmental language? How can we document and describe
§ Prendeville, Jo-Anne. 2009. Infant and Preschool Language
Development. In A.E. Brice and R.G. Brice (eds.) Language
Development. Boston: Pearson. pp. 32-73.
RECOMMENDED SUPPLEMENTAL READING
§ McLaughlin. 2006. Chapter 6 Early Language Development—
Toddlers. Introduction to Language Development. 2nd ed. Clifton
Park, NY: Thomson. pp. 217-264.
§ McLaughlin. 2006. Chapter 7 Pragmatic and Semantic Development
in Preschoolers. Introduction to Language Development. 2nd ed.
Clifton Park, NY: Thomson. pp. 265-302.
§ McLaughlin. 2006. Chapter 8 Developing Grammar in Preschoolers.
Introduction to Language Development. 2nd ed. Clifton Park, NY:
Thomson. pp. 303-348.
Sept 22 INTRODUCTION TO LANGUAGE SOCIALIZATION
How do we account for sociocultural factors in studying language
acquisition? What other skills and knowledge develop together with
linguistic competence? How do we document and interpret language
acquisition in situ in naturally occurring interactional circumstances?
DUE: Description (one page) of developmental language features from
recorded speech sample.
• Ochs. 1988. Ch. 1 To Know a Language. Culture and Language
Development. pp. 1-39.
• Paugh. Introduction & Ch. 1 Discourses of Differentiation, Unity, and
Identity. Playing with Language. pp. 1-56.
• In class: Ochs. 1999. Socialization. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology
Sept 29 LANGUAGE SOCIALIZATION IN MULTILINGUAL SOCIETY
What can we learn from a study of language socialization in a multilingual
setting where language shift is occurring? What factors influence the
linguistic and communicative competence children develop in different
languages under these circumstances? What language ideologies shape
socialization into multiple languages?
• Paugh. Chapters 2-3. Playing with Language. pp. 57-114.
• Ahearn. 2012. Ch. 3: Language Acquisition and Socialization. Living
Language. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 50-64.
Oct 6 CHILDREN’S AGENCY IN SOCIALIZATION AND LANGUAGE SHIFT
How do we conceptualize children as agentive actors? What role do
children have in reproducing and reshaping the balance of linguistic
diversity in a particular place and community?
• Paugh. Chapters 4-Conclusion. Playing with Language. pp. 115-221.
Week 7 FALL BREAK
Oct 13 No class
Oct 20 SOCIALIZATION INTO LITERACY AND SCHOOLING PRACTICES
What does literacy development entail? What are literacy practices, and
what factors influence development of literacy skills and competence in
literacy practices? How can we document and study development of literacy
over time and across settings?
• Lareau. 2011. Chapters 1-5. Unequal Childhoods. 2nd edition. pp. 1-104.
In class: Besnier. 1999. Literacy. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9(1-
Oct 27 CLASS DIFFERENCES IN LANGUAGE PRACTICES AT HOME
How do literacy and story-telling practices vary across class and ethnic
communities? What do we learn about literacy and communicative
competence from looking at language practices at home?
DUE: Transcript of recorded bedtime story
• Lareau. 2011. Part II intro & Chapters 6-7. Unequal Childhoods. 2nd
edition. pp. 105-160.
• Heath. What No Bedtime Story Means: Narrative Skills at Home and
In class: students prepare and present analyses of bedtime stories
Nov 3 LANGUAGE USE, FAMILIES, AND INSTITUTIONS
How does (mis)alignment between practices at home and at school shape
communicative competence for success in academic settings?
• Lareau. 2011. Part III intro & Chapters 8-12. Unequal Childhoods. 2nd
edition. pp. 161-258.
Nov 10 SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
Is there a critical period for learning a language “like a native?” How is
language learning different if we are past the critical period? What are the
main theories of second language (L2) acquisition? And what goals and
outcomes are associated with learning a second or foreign language?
• Brice & Brice. Second-Language Acquisition. In Language Development.
Boston: Allyn & Bacon. pp. 112-146.
• Merritt. Can Genes Predict Foreign Language Learning Skills? The
Telegraph. Posted June 24, 2015.
• In class: Rivas. Bilingual Kids May Become Better Communicators; How
Exposure to New Languages Builds New Perspectives. Medical Daily.
Posted May 12, 2015. http://www.medicaldaily.com/bilingual-kids-may9
• Busl. Is Fluency the Goal of Language Learning? The Hill. Posted May 6,
Nov 17 SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING & PEDAGOGY
What are the major approaches to L2/FL instruction? What theories of
acquisition to they presuppose? How should instruction be adapted for
heritage learners? How can we characterize language learning in the United
• Reading on approaches in language pedagogy TBD
• Fisher. Many European kids learn two foreign languages by age 9. Most
Americans? Zero. Quartz. July 14, 2015. http://qz.com/453297
• Friedman. America’s Lacking Language Skills. The Atlantic. Posted May
10, 2015. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/05/fillingamericas-
• Rhodes and Pufahl. Executive Summary: Foreign Language Teaching in
U.S. Schools: Results of a National Survey. Center for Applied
Linguistics. (Posted to MyCourses).
• In class: STARTALK: http://www.cal.org/what-we-do/projects/startalk
• English for Heritage Language Speakers (EHLS). http://www.cal.org/whatwe-
Nov 24 NO CLASS MEETING
Today’s class is replaced by our field trip to Ganondagan. In preparation for
visiting Ganondagan, students should complete the following reading:
• Moore. 1999. Endangered. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9(1-2):65-
• Native American Language Revitalization Legislation in the U.S.
Congress. Linguistic Society of America. Posted July 30, 2014.
Dec 1 ENDANGERED LANGUAGE ACQUISITION & LANGUAGE
What can be done to turn the tide of language shift? What measures do
ethnolinguistic communities employ to increase use of an endangered
language? What are the challenges that communities face in designing and
implementing language revitalization programs?
DUE: Field note from observation of a second language/foreign language
• Meek. Ch. 2 Endangered Languages and the Process of Language
Revitalization. AND Ch. 6 From Revitalization to Socialization. We Are
Our Language. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press. pp. 41-55 AND
• Rose. 10 Ways to Boost Tribal Language Programs. Indian Country
Today Media Network. April 27, 2015. http://ictmn.com/44xY.
In class: in small groups, research & present on an endangered language
and the speech community’s revitalization efforts
Dec 8 THE ‘LANGUAGE GAP’: SYNTHESIZING A DEBATE IN THE FIELD
One of the most well-publicized and controversial theories concerning
educational inequalities in circulation today is the idea that there is an early
childhood “language gap” in homes that puts certain children at a
disadvantage for success in schools. We will familiarize ourselves with the
research that supports and challenges this explanation for educational
inequities and discuss it in light of what we now know about language
• Fernald, Marchman, and Weisleder. 2013. SES differences in language
processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months.
Developmental Science 16(2):234-248.
• Avineri et al. 2015. Invited Forum: Bridging the “Language Gap.” Journal
of Linguistic Anthropology 25(1)66-86.
• Carey. Stanford Psychologist Shows Why Talking to Kids Really Matters.
Stanford Report. February 13, 2014.
• Rich. Language Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K. New York Times.
October 21, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/22/us/languagegap-
In class: students will be divided into groups, meet, prepare to present, and
present a particular position on the language gap debate (presentations will
synthesize where the group stands in the debate, grounding their position in
today’s articles as well as theoretical concepts and empirical observations
from throughout the semester).
Final exam: Tuesday, December 22, 6:45-9:45 pm