Anno accademico
2023/2024 Programmi anni precedenti
Titolo corso in inglese
Codice insegnamento
LM5920 (AF:380940 AR:249795)
In presenza
Crediti formativi universitari
Livello laurea
Laurea magistrale (DM270)
Settore scientifico disciplinare
I Semestre
Anno corso
Spazio Moodle
Link allo spazio del corso
This course examines early language development, from when a child is around two years old to when they are three and a half. We will ask questions about the nature of early linguistic representations, the development of the language processing systems, the relationship between competence and processing, and we will become familiar with different hypotheses concerning language development and developmental trajectories. We will examine the nature of children's early linguistic representations in the domains of phonology, morphophonology and syntax. Two broad and contrasting views of the acquisition process will be introduced to stimulate students' critical thinking skills and hone their abilities to evaluate different types of evidence against the predictions of different theories. We will address questions such as: What is the nature of the initial state in language acquisition? Is it continuous with the adult state? What is the nature of the developmental trajectories in different domains? What is the relationship between children's competence and their processing systems (comprehension and production)? In addition to addressing these questions, we will address the role of input, specifically, the relationship between input quantity and quality and language development.
Theory, practice, and academic communicative abilities are interwoven throughout the course. Students will:
1. Acquire knowledge and understanding of the basic issues and controversies in first language acquisition
2. Develop and apply skills for analyzing children's spontaneous language production
3. Learn the basic experimental procedures used to test children's linguistic knowledge
4. Learn how to analyze and critique primary research articles
5. Design a language acquisition study suitable for the age and background of the child
6. Analyze and critically understand areas where there is debate and/or theoretical disagreement
7. Develop academic communication skills required to interact professionally with the instructor, with peers and potential guest speakers

By the end of the course students should be able to:
1. Explain current controversies in first language acquisition and relate them to broader issues in speech science, linguistics, psychology, and philosophy
2. Understand the components of good methods in language acquisition research
3. Critique primary experimental and theoretical articles in language acquisition
4. Develop a research question in language acquisition and outline a line of approach
5. Demonstrate knowledge of key theoretical claims about children's knowledge and use of language and the mechanisms of language development
6. Deliver a talk with peers
General linguistics: syntax; phonetics and phonology
Statistics: descriptive statistics and distributions, hypothesis testing, differences between means, analysis of variance
Linking early abstraction versus lexical specificity to nativism and empiricism
Methods to assess children's linguistic knowledge and language use
Measures of child language complexity
Experimental methods
Phonological development
Syntactic development
Children's developing performance systems
Null subjects
Argument structure
Bencini, G. M. L. & Valian, V. V. (2008). Abstract sentence representations in 3-year-olds: Evidence from language production and comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language, 59, 97–113.
Charest, M. & Johnston, J. R. (2011). Processing load in children’s language production: A clinically oriented review of research. Canadian Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, 35, 18–31.
Demuth K. (2019). Prosodic constraints on children’s use of grammatical morphemes. First Language, 39, 80–95.
Demuth K., Moloi, F., & Machobane, M. (2010). 3-year-olds’ comprehension, production, and generalization of Sesotho passives. Cognition, 115, 238–251.
McDaniel, D., McKee, C., & Garrett, M. F. (2010). Children’s sentence planning: Syntactic correlates of fluency variations. Journal of Child Language, 37, 59–94.
McKee, C., McDaniel, D., & Garrett, M. C. (2018). Children’s performance abilities: Language production. In E. Fernández & H. Smith Cairns (eds.), Handbook of psycholinguistics, 491–515. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Mealings, K. T. & Demuth, K. (2014). The role of utterance length and position in 3-year-olds’ production of third person singular-s. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 57, 484–494.
Messenger, K., Branigan, H. P., & McLean, J. F. (2011a). Evidence for (shared) abstract structure underlying children’s short and full passives. Cognition, 121, 268–274. doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2011.07.003
Messenger, K., Branigan, H. P., McLean, J. F., & Sorace, A. (2012). Is young children’s passive syntax semantically constrained? Evidence from syntactic priming. Journal of Memory and Language, 66, 568–587.
Savage, C., Lieven, E., Theakston, A., & Tomasello, M. (2006). Structural priming as implicit learning in language acquisition: The persistence of lexical and structural priming in 4-year-olds. Language Learning and Development, 2, 27–49.
Savage, C., Lieven, E., Theakston, A., & Tomasello, M. (2003). Testing the abstractness of children's linguistic representations: lexical and structural priming of syntactic constructions in young children. Developmental Science, 6, 557–567.
Pozzan, L. & Valian, V. (2017). Asking questions in child English: Evidence for early abstract representations. Language Acquisition, 24, 209-233.
Valian, V. (2016). Null subjects. In J. Lidz, W. Snyder, & J. Pater (Eds.), Oxford handbook of developmental linguistics (Chapter 17). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Valian, V. (2015, revision of 2009). Innateness and learnability. In E. Bavin & L. Naigles (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of child language (Ch 2, pp 14-36). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Valian, V. (2014). Arguing about innateness. Journal of Child Language, 41 (S1), 78-92.
Valian, V. (2013). Determiners: An empirical argument for innateness. In Sanz, M., Laka, I., & Tanenhaus, M. (Eds.). Language down the garden path: The cognitive and biological basis for linguistic structure (Chapter 14). New York: Oxford University Press.
Valian, V., Solt, S., & Stewart, J. (2009). Abstract categories or limited-scope formulae: The case of children's determiners. Journal of Child Language.
Valian, V., Prasada, S., & Scarpa, J. (2006). Direct object predictability: effects on young children’s imitation of sentences. Journal of Child Language, 33, 247-269.
Valian, V. (2006). Young children's understanding of present and past tense. Language Learning and Development, 2, 251-276.
Valian, V., & Aubry, S. (2005). When opportunity knocks twice: two-year-olds' repetition of sentence subjects. Journal of Child Language, 32, 617-641.
Valian, V. & Casey, L. (2003). Young children's acquisition of wh-questions: The role of structured input. Journal of Child Language, 30, 117-143.
Studenti Frequentanti (partecipazione ad almeno 13 su15 lezioni): 1) Un esame scritto con 3 domande a campo aperto che richiedono una risposta espositiva e 6 domande a scelta multipla. 2) Una presentazione di gruppo alla classe. Per gli studenti frequentanti il voto finale è calcolato facendo la media del voto scritto e del voto nella presentazione orale. La presentazione orale si svolge in itinere. Il voto viene tenuto per tutto l'a.a.
Descrizione della valutazione delle parti di esame per gli studenti frequentanti:
1) Esame scritto: 30 punti cosi divisi: 18 punti per le tre domande aperte (6 punti per domanda), 12 punti per le domande a scelta multipla (2 punti per domanda). Nelle domande a scelta multipla le risposte errate risultano nella sottrazione del punto.
2) Presentazione di gruppo (2-3 persone): 30 punti massimo, valutato in base alla qualità del materiale inviato alla docente e reso disponibile ai pari, qualità della esposizione alla classe.
Contributo individuale: 1 punto bonus per contributo maggiore nel lavoro di gruppo.

Descrizione della valutazione delle parti dell' esame per gli studenti non-frequentanti:: Esame scritto: 30 punti cosi divisi: 18 punti per le tre domande aperte (6 punti per domanda), 12 punti per le domande a scelta multipla (2 punti per domanda). Nelle domande a scelta multipla le risposte errate risultano nella sottrazione del punto.
The class adopts a graduate seminar format. Students will read original theoretical, empirical, and computational articles. For each class, I will assign one or two readings. Readings should be done prior to class. Students should be prepared to participate in class discussion. A participation grade will be assigned based on class participation.
Accessibilità, Disabilità ed Inclusione: Accomodamenti e Servizi di Supporto per studenti con disabilità o disturbi specifici dell’apprendimento

Ca Foscari applica la Legge Italiana (Legge 17/1999; Legge 170/2010) per i servizi di supporto e di accomodamento disponibili agli studenti con disabilità e con disturbi specifici dell’apprendimento (DSA). Se hai una disabilità motoria, visiva, dell’udito o altre disabilità (Legge 17/1999) o un disturbo specifico dell’apprendimento (Legge 170/2010) e richiedi supporto (assistenza in aula, ausili tecnologici per lo svolgimento di esami o esami individualizzati, materiale in formato accessibile, recupero appunti, tutorato specialistico a supporto dello studio, interpreti o altro)
contatta l’ufficio Disabilità e DSA disabilita@unive.it.
Programma definitivo.
Data ultima modifica programma: 25/03/2023