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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2013/2014

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Vikki Cecchetto


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 602

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23761

Office Hours: Fri. 10-11, or by appointment

Course Objectives:

The primary goal of this course is to give students an introduction to the theoretical perspectives on second language acquisition (SLA) and to the effects of SLA on the first language. The course will teach the student to:

 1) read SLA theories critically and present them to the class in a “conference” format

 2) read about  SLA’s effects on L1 critically and present them to the class

 3) evaluate their peers’ presentations

 4) investigate and assess their own SL characteristics

 5) apply knowledge acquired in this course (and others) to prepare a research project on SLA


Since this is a seminar course designed to promote self-based and collaborative learning, it is essential that each student ensure that the readings are done faithfully each week so that:

1) you can contribute meaningfully to the discussion of the material being presented

2) think critically about how the topic / the theory was presented

3) thoughtfully question the framework used, i.e. the research questions/ hypotheses, the methods, results, conclusions, further research questions, etc.

4) apply the knowledge gained through the readings to understanding your own SLA profile and research project

Where appropriate, there will be an introduction to the material in lecture format by the instructor.

The Schedule for the course will be posted on the course website on Avenue after the first class. This will allow the instructor to learn the SL profile of each student and to establish the appropriate lecture content.

The Presentations and the Research Project will be group work. Detailed descriptions of  the Presentation format and the Research Project Plan will be found on the course website on Avenue.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Van Patten, B. & Williams, Jessica. Theories in Second Language Acquisition: An Introduction.  Routledge, 2008. (All editions are acceptable.)

Cook, Vivian. Effects of the Second Language on the First.  Multilingual Matters, 2003.

Method of Assessment:

Written Knowledge Assessments (5 x 5%):                                                         25%

  [Assessment Dates: Sept. 27, Oct. 11, Oct. 25, Nov. 8, Nov. 22 2013]

  [Detailed descriptions of the Written Knowledge Assessments will be found on the course website on Avenue.

Group Presentation (peer evaluations: 10% + instructor evaluation: 15%):          25%

   [Each student will be responsible for one component of the Presentation and their contribution is to be clearly identified.]

Group Research Project Plan & Bibliography (for each student):                        15%

   [Due: Oct. 18, 2013]

   [Each student will be responsible for one component of the Research Project Plan and their contribution is to be clearly identified.]

Final Project:                                                                                                        35%

   [Due: Nov. 28, 2013]

   [Each student will be responsible for one component of the Research Project and their contribution is to be clearly identified.]          

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:


1) Having to reschedule a class presentation, without prior notice and without the appropriate documentation from the Faculty/ Program Office, will result in a reduction of 10% from the presentation mark.

2) All written work will be marked on grammar, clarity of writing, and organization, as well as content and analysis. Detailed descriptions of each of the Grade Categories (i.e. what constitutes an A+, A, A- paper, etc.)  will be found on the course website on Avenue.

3) Late assignments will be penalized 5% a day (weekends will count as one day).

4) Late penalties will not be waived unless your Faculty/Program Office advises the instructor that you have submitted to that office the appropriate documentation to support your inability to submit the work by the due date.

Please Note:  It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors and from students to faculty and staff, must originate from each student's own McMaster University email account (i.e. with the extension The email function in Avenue does not have an extension. Do not use the email function in Avenue to contact your instructor. Your email will be deleted.


McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

TBA - as soon as group topics are submitted to instructor