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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Moray House School of Education : Education

Postgraduate Course: Investigating Individual Learner Differences (EDUA11282)

Course Outline
SchoolMoray House School of Education CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is appropriate for practising teachers and new teachers who are interested in language learning and teaching issues. The course examines a range of psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic differences found among learners considering them in the context of the second language classroom and the implication of these differences implications for language teaching pedagogy. In particular this course enables students to explore what theory and research tell us about the relationship between language learning and language aptitude, language attitudes and motivation, age, gender, anxiety and language learning strategies and considers how these individual variables interact with the language learning process. The course links closely to Language and the Learner offering an opportunity to consider the relationship and implication of central theories and concepts in Language Learning to the individual learner. The course offers the opportunity to consider learners as individuals and to discuss and develop pedagogical approaches that take into account learner commonalities and differences and to situate the individual differences in the wider context of general language teaching and learning theories. After an overview of the field, each session considers a different aspect of individual learner differences examining the theory and research and drawing out the practical implications for teaching practice.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 15/01/2018
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 8, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 16, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 4,000 words
Provide a brief overview of research into one particular aspect of individual learner differences examined on the course. Then select two relevant studies to critically consider in more detail. What are the implications of the studies you have chosen for teaching practice? How do they specifically relate to your own professional context? In light of your discussion so far design a 1 hour lesson plan that demonstrates your application of the research in this particular learner difference area to your teaching practice.
Provide an overview of research into one particular aspect of individual learner differences examined on the course. Identifying a gap in the research, design a research study you could carry out in your language teaching classroom to investigate a specific aspect of your chosen individual difference. Explain how the study might inform and impact on your professional practice.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate critical understanding of the theories underpinning the outlined individual learner differences. Apply broad theories of language learning to the specific field of individual learner differences.
  2. Explore the relationship between individual differences and language learning outcomes. Understand how individual differences can help or hinder learning outcomes.
  3. Analyse research studies that pertain to each of the key areas outlined above. Evaluate research methodology used for the investigation of individual differences and develop their own research proposals for investigating this area.
  4. Critically analyse their own teaching context and draw implications from research in individual differences to this specific context.
  5. Develop language teaching strategies and techniques to practically address individual learner differences.
Reading List
Core text:
Dörnyei, Z. (2005) The Psychology of the Language Learner London: Routledge
Ortega, L. (2009) Understanding Second Language Acquisition London: Hodder Education

Supplementary reading:
1. Dörnyei, Z. & Ushioda, E. (2011) Motivation to learn another language: current socio-dynamic perspectives In Teaching and Researching Motivation London: Longman pp. 74-88
2. Gardner, R.C. & Lambert, W.E. (1959) Motivational variables in second language acquisition Canadian Journal of Psychology 13, pp.266-272
3. Gardner, R.C., Tremblay, P.F. & Masgoret, A. (1997) Towards a full model of second language learning: an empirical investigation The Modern Language Journal 81, pp.344-362
4. Graham, S. and Macaro, E. (2007) Designing Year 12 strategy training in listening and writing: from theory to practice. Language Learning Journal, 35 (2). pp. 153-173
5. Grenfell, M. & Macaro, E. (2007) Claims and Critiques In A. Cohen & E. Macaro Language Learner Strategies: 30 years of Research and Practice Oxford: Oxford University Press
6. Macaro, E. (2000) Learner Strategies in foreign language learning: cross national factors Tuttitalia 22, 9-18
7. Muñoz, C. (2008) Age-related differences in foreign language learning. Revisiting the empirical evidence International Review of Applied Linguistics 46 (3), pp.197-220
8. Ortega, L. (2009) Age In Understanding Second Language Acquisition London: Hodder Education pp. 12-29
9. Ortega, L. (2009) Foreign Language Anxiety In Understanding Second Language Acquisition London: Hodder Education pp. 200-202
10. Dörnyei, Z. (2005) Anxiety In The Psychology of the Language Learner London: Routledge pp.198-202
11. Skehan, P. (2002) Theorising and updating aptitude In P. Robinson (Ed.) Individual Differences and Instructed Second Language Learning Amsterdam: Benjamins
12. Callaghan, M. (1998) An investigation into the causes of boys¿ underachievement in French Language Learning Journal 17, p. 2-7
13. Clark, A. & Trafford, J. (1996) Return to gender: boys¿ and girls¿ attitudes and achievements Language Learning Journal 14, pp.40-49
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Lecture
Godfrey Thomson Hall

Group 1: Thomson's Land G10
Group 2: Paterson's Land 1.37
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Aileen Irvine
Tel: (0131 6)51 6145
Course secretaryMrs Moira Ross
Tel: (0131 6)51 6206
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