Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Second Language Studies
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About SLS

Welcome to the Ph.D. Program in Second Language Studies (SLS). The SLS Ph.D. Program is designed to provide students a firm foundation in the fields of Second Language Acquisition (SLA), applied linguistics, and foreign language studies. Students who get a Second Language Studies Ph.D. (also known as an applied linguistics Ph.D.) at MSU learn how to apply theories and methods from these fields to current second language (L2) and foreign language research and teaching. The field of SLA is the study of the acquisition of a non-primary language; that is, a second language (L2), a foreign language (FL), or a third (L3) or additional language. As such, the field addresses questions such as how L2 learning occurs, what bilingualism is (how it is defined) and how it affects the human brain and cognition and cognitive processing, why learners often do not achieve proficiency levels similar to their first language, what interlanguage development is, how individual differences (i.e., motivation, willingness-to-communicate, strategies use, and anxiety) contribute to L2 and FL learning, and how classroom instruction affects L2 learning. The SLS Ph.D. Program at MSU draws from a number of disciplines (TESOL, ESL, foreign language education, applied linguistics, cognitive science, applied measurement, statistics, language policy, bilingualism, foreign and second language pedagogy) as students are trained to explore some of these and related areas and questions.

MSU has a rich environment for language study that includes two departments that focus on the teaching and learning of second/foreign languages, a Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA), which offers an MA in Foreign Language Teaching, an English Language Center for instruction in English for international students, a Center for Language Education and Research, (a Title VI funded center whose mission is to aid in improving language learning and teaching in the U.S.), and a well developed program for teaching of Less Commonly Taught Languages.