Second language acquisition (SLA) is a multidisciplinary field whose goal is to understand the processes that underlie non-native language learning. The doctoral program in second language acquisition draws from varied academic disciplines, among them linguistics, psychology, psycholinguistics, sociology, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, conversation analysis, and education.

The interdisciplinary Ph.D. in second language acquisition is sponsored by Foreign Language Acquisition Research and Education (FLARE). More than 20 faculty members affiliated with SLA are drawn from various departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Education.

The SLA doctoral program emphasizes theory, research, and classroom-based teaching and learning. All students take courses in SLA theory, multimedia, research methods, language learning and linguistics. In addition, each student defines an area of specialization, in consultation with a SLA advisor. The two broad areas of specialization are language learning and postsecondary education, and linguistics and psycholinguistics.

Students in the language learning and postsecondary education specialization area demonstrate interest in issues where SLA and pedagogy converge. This includes classroom discourse, assessment, and the acquisition of grammatical knowledge in the classroom context. Students also may focus on aspects of technology and how it facilitates second language acquisition.

Students in the linguistics and psycholinguistics specialization area exhibit interest in areas of formal linguistics (e.g., syntax, phonology, morphology) and/or applied linguistics issues that relate to their particular second language focus. Student projects include the acquisition of the syntactic structures and/or phonological features of a second language, and generative and cognitive approaches to explaining acquisition. Students who work in psycholinguistics also may focus on the relationship between language processing and language acquisition.

Second Language Acquisition is one of the units in the Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures