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Unit information: Language and Literacy in Young Children in 2018/19

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Language and Literacy in Young Children
Unit code SPOL30036
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Lucas
Open unit status Open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit will of most interest to students who have enjoyed psychology units, and/or are interested in early years and primary educational settings. It brings together current knowledge from psychology about how children learn to speak, read and write, and applies this to understand how education is (or should be) provided from infancy through early primary years. You will also learn about the importance of the social and cultural context for language and literacy development. Students who take this course enjoy the wide range of topics and materials provided, and the fascinating subject matter.

Areas of study include learning to speak and understand, theories of language acquisition, bilingualism, international migration and the language environment, understanding speech and language difficulties, learning to read, learning to write and spell and inequalities in literacy. Specialist lecturers are brought in to cover topics, for example a speech and language therapist to discuss language impairments and disorders.

Students are expected to take an active part in their learning, taking part in discussion of set readings and researching topics for seminars. The formative assessment is a mock exam, designed to give you feedback and support to practice for the final exam..

This unit aims to:

  • To provide students with an overview of current theories and research on the development of language and the acquisition of literacy
  • To examine the implications of research and theory for educational approaches
  • To describe and explain common disorders of language and speech
  • To describe and explain common disorders of reading and writing
  • To consider different contexts for language acquisition

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the studying this unit, students should be equipped to:

" Establish a critical understanding of relevant research

" Develop report writing and essay writing skills

" Evaluate educational approaches to supporting early literacy

Teaching details

Lectures, fieldwork and seminars.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment: mock exam

Summative assessment: 3 hour unseen exam

Reading and References

  • Whitehead M (2010) Language & Literacy in the Early Years 0-7 (4th Edn) London:Sage
  • Harley, T A (2008) The psychology of language: from data to theory. 4th ed. Hove : Psychology Press
  • Browne, A. (2009) Developing Language & Literacy 3-8. Sage
  • Pinker (1994) The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. London: Penguin Press
  • Brookes PJ Kemp V (2012) Language Development. West Sussex: BPS Blackwell