The relationship between linguistic theory and nonnative (as well as native) language acquisition has been an oft‑changing one over the last several decades: at times closely and directly linked; at others, hardly at all and at most indirectly. One of the reasons for this fluctuation may be due to the fast pace at which linguistic theory itself evolves; another reason can be traced to the emphasis placed on pedagogical concerns. While the more practical applications of nonnative language (L2) research continue to attract the most attention (as evidenced by publication breakdowns), there is a growing body of research that specifically aims to tie together linguistic theory and L2 acquisition research. The overall goal of this type of research (in which the focus on morphosyntax far surpasses all other domains) is to create a conceptually and empirically well‑grounded theory of L2 acquisition.
The aims of this course, therefore, are to become familiar with some current––as well as classic––work on theoretical approaches to L2 acquisition whose underpinnings stem from linguistic theory. We will closely examine some of the conceptual and empirical research that speaks to issues relevant to different approaches to L2 acquisition from this perspective. In general, although we will concentrate on L2 acquisition (with comparisons to native language acquisition) from within one particular theory of syntax, namely, Generative Grammar, it is also expected that other topics on L2 acquisition of interest to the class will be touched on.