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LINGUIST 3C03 Child Language Acquisition

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: E

Instructor: Dr. Catherine Anderson


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 503

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 26241


Office Hours: Tues 12:30-1:30, Thurs 4:00-5:00, or Weds before class by appointment

Course Objectives:

Linguistics 3C03 studies language behaviour and development in children from birth to school age. The course examines how data from children's language acquisition can inform linguistic theory. The goals of the course are:

  • to understand the elements of the major theories of child language acquisition

  • to evaluate the key research findings that inform these theories

  • to practice communicating scientific findings to both scientific and non- scientific audiences

  • to analyze primary data to answer research questions 

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

  • iClicker response device

  • Sedivy, Julie. (2014). Language in Mind: An Introduction to Psycholinguistics. Sinauer Associates ISBN 978-0-87893-598-7

(This textbook is available at the Campus Store, is on reserve at Mills, or may be rented for the semester from the publisher. See Avenue for details. This textbook is also used for Ling 3C03 Child Language Acquisition in Winter 2018.) 

Method of Assessment:

Participation in class using iClicker 10%

If you click a response to 80% of clicker questions you receive 10/10. If you respond to fewer clicker questions your clicker score is pro-rated accordingly. 

Midterm Test 20% 60 minutes, written in class on Wednesday, Feb 28.
Press Release Project 15% Submitted on Avenue on Friday, Feb 2.
Data Analysis Project 25%

Data collection in Weeks 6-8, submitted by Friday March 9.

Final written report submitted on Avenue on Thursday, March 29

Final Exam 30% 2.5 hours, scheduled by the Registrar during the Final Exam Period. The final exam includes material from the entire semester.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late Assignments: You may submit a project within 48 hours of the due date for a 25% reduction in value or within 96 hours of the due date for a 50% reduction in value. If you submit an MSAF or other approved document (via the Academic Advisors of your Faculty) for a project, contact Dr. Anderson immediately to arrange an alternate due date.

Excused Tests: If you submit an MSAF or other approved document (via the Academic Advisors of your Faculty) for the midterm test, you wll have the option of writing an alternate test scheduled by the instructor, or of adding the 20% weight of the test to the weight of the final exam.

Clicker Points: MSAFs are not accepted for clicker points. To make an alternate arrangement about clicker points for accessibility reasons, please contact Dr. Anderson at the beginning of the semester.

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:

Weeks 1 & 2

The Science of Language, Origins of Human Languages 

Sections 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2 

Weeks 3 & 4 Learning Sound Patterns

Sections 4.1, 4.2, 4.4 

Weeks 5 - 7 Learning Words Chapter 5
Weeks 8 - 10 Learning Sentence Organization Chapter 6
Weeks 11 & 12 Language as a Social System Chapter 11


Other Course Information:

In this course we will be using Avenue2Learn. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster email accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.