Communication and Information Studies: Language learning and language teaching

“You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.” – Geoffrey Willans

WHAT IS LANGUAGE LEARNING AND LANGUAGE TEACHING?

This programme bridges the gap between what linguists know about the learnability of languages and what language teachers experience in daily life. We aim to explain why certain aspects of languages are extremely difficult to learn while others are not, and how this varies for different learner groups. We use this information to critically analyze teaching and assessment materials and to develop and investigate new teaching methods and language interventions.

FOCUS ON LEARNER GROUPS

In this programme, we primarily study the process of language learning in both young children and foreign language learners. The first group not only consists of typically developing children, but also children with an atypical language development pattern, such as children with dyslexia and children with a hearing impairment or a communicative disability. The second group consists of children and adults learning a second or foreign language. We cannot use the same teaching methods and models and language tests for these two groups. What works for one group does not necessarily work for the other. In this programme, we study why this is the case and how we can help improve group-specific teaching and testing materials.

WHO ARE YOU?

Are you thinking about joining our LL&LT programme? In that case, you’ve always been passionate about language in general and about language learning processes in particular. You have always wondered why four-year-olds speak their mother tongue fluently while they cannot even tie their own shoelaces or draw a decent picture of a car. You are also intrigued by the fact that different groups of individuals follow their own specific learning path and sometimes even stagnate in their development. As an LL&LT graduate, you want to play a part in improving second or foreign language teaching and language teaching for groups with special needs.

Students with a degree in LL&LT are typically involved in developing language learning methods and teacher training programmes, in designing language proficiency assessments, and in teaching language to groups of learners with special needs. They may also provide language consultancy services for companies, the government or non-profit organizations.

Many bachelor students choose to pursue an English Master's in Linguistics or a Dutch master's in Applied Linguistics, which is also offered by VU Amsterdam.

To be admitted with a non-Dutch diploma, you must hold an equivalent to a Dutch pre-university school diploma (VWO) for example a Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife or IB Diploma. Depending on your background, you may also need to supply proof of your English language proficiency.

Even if you possess a diploma that is equivalent to the Dutch VWO, you may still have to meet specific entry requirements before you will be admitted to a Bachelor’s degree programme. In October, a general guide with specific accepted diplomas will appear on our website.

Note that the initial application procedure is fully online and that scans of your relevant documents are required.

English language requirements
VU Amsterdam requires all international applicants to take an English language proficiency test and to submit their scores before 31 August.  Applicants who have completed their education in Canada, the USA, the UK, New Zealand or Australia are exempt from this requirement, as are those who have obtained an International Baccalaureate or European Baccalaureate diploma (English-taught programs only).
We accept the following tests and minimum scores:

  • IELTS: 6.5
  • TOEFL paper-based test: 580
  • TOEFL internet-based test: 92
  • Cambridge Advanced English (CAE): A, B or C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): A, B, C

Students living in the Netherlands can also register for a TOEFL-ITP exam offered by the VU Taalloket. The test costs €80 and is only valid for admission to VU Amsterdam.

You start the application procedure through the Studielink.nl national application system. You will then receive an e-mail inviting you to complete your application in the VU student portal, where you will also be asked to submit all documentation needed for the admission procedure. You do not have to complete your application in one session; you can save it and come back to it as often as you want before completing and submitting it.

Required application documents:

  • CV
  • Copy of valid passport or ID (ID for EEA students only)
  • Copy of your diploma (if obtained, can also be provided after conditional admission)
  •  Copy of your latest transcript of records (if you have not graduated yet, please send us an official transcript listing the marks you have received to date). For A-level and IB applicants: include predicted Grade transcript if available.
  • Proof of sufficient English language test results (can also be provided after conditional admission)

A (to be obtained) secondary school diploma equivalent to the Dutch pre-university VWO is a primary admission criteria.

The VU Matching Programme enables you to check whether you have chosen the right degree programme. The matching programme consists of two steps: a digital questionnaire on VUnet, which is part of the application process, and a online matching activity. By taking part in the matching activity, you can check whether the programme is really the right one for you. For more information, please see the VU Matching Programme website.

Questions? Get in touch with us:

bachelors.hum@vu.nl for international students and phf.bos@vu.nl for Dutch students.

Bachelor information day
At the Bachelor information days there will be information rounds with practical information. Afterwards you can visit the information market to ask your questions to current students and an academic advisor. 

This is what you will be doing


First of all, the first year gives you a broad theoretical base reflecting the current state of the art regarding the structure of language, how language interacts with cognition and what kind of factors are driving language acquisition. Second, you will learn the basics of adjacent research fields, such as communication studies and discourse analysis. Last but not least, you will work on some indispensable general academic skills, such as research methodologies and academic writing.


In the second year, your knowledge of language learning will be further developed as we dive deeper into a number of linguistic domains, such as phonetics, morphology, semantics. This will help you become more proficient in recognizing typical and atypical language patterns in both monolingual and bilingual children. You will also be introduced to the field of language teaching and you will learn and experience how language teaching may influence second and foreign language learning, for instance in the module ‘second language learning’. We also help you to further develop your academic skills, in the courses ‘statistics’ and ‘philosophy’.


In the first semester of the third year of this Bachelor’s programme, you will choose a minor programme. You are completely free in your choice, depending predominantly on your future plans and your personal interests. You can choose from minor programmes such as Brain and Mind, European History and Culture, Digital Humanities, and many others. In the second semester of this year, you will dot the i’s and cross the t’s by focusing on language teaching, dyslexia and on assessing language proficiency. You will round off your programme by writing a Bachelor’s thesis.


First of all, the first year gives you a broad theoretical base reflecting the current state of the art regarding the structure of language, how language interacts with cognition and what kind of factors are driving language acquisition. Second, you will learn the basics of adjacent research fields, such as communication studies and discourse analysis. Last but not least, you will work on some indispensable general academic skills, such as research methodologies and academic writing.


In the second year, your knowledge of language learning will be further developed as we dive deeper into a number of linguistic domains, such as phonetics, morphology, semantics. This will help you become more proficient in recognizing typical and atypical language patterns in both monolingual and bilingual children. You will also be introduced to the field of language teaching and you will learn and experience how language teaching may influence second and foreign language learning, for instance in the module ‘second language learning’. We also help you to further develop your academic skills, in the courses ‘statistics’ and ‘philosophy’.


In the first semester of the third year of this Bachelor’s programme, you will choose a minor programme. You are completely free in your choice, depending predominantly on your future plans and your personal interests. You can choose from minor programmes such as Brain and Mind, European History and Culture, Digital Humanities, and many others. In the second semester of this year, you will dot the i’s and cross the t’s by focusing on language teaching, dyslexia and on assessing language proficiency. You will round off your programme by writing a Bachelor’s thesis.

Overview CIS: Language Learning and Language Teaching

LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION

English

DURATION

3 years (fulltime)

APPLICATION DEADLINE

1 April (non-EEA students requiring visa and/or housing) / 1 May (all others)

START DATE

1 september 2018

STUDY TYPE

Full-time

BINDING STUDY ADVICE

You need to obtain 42 ECTS plus academic skills

FIELD OF INTEREST

Language and Communication