Language, Education and the Early Years


This module focuses on child development in the first 8 years. It will cover language development, number and counting knowledge, reading from a cognitive and educational perspective. In addition, it will look at the influence of play and the media during these early years.


The aim of this module is to provide the student with a critical understanding of early years development from a cognitive and educational perspective.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Critically discuss psychological theories of language development, and interpret and evaluate relevant empirical data.

2.  Critically assess the research literature on language development.

3.  Critically discuss theories of mathematical development.

4.  Demonstrate an understanding of early reading and numerical skills within an educational context.

5.  Evaluate psychological research on the role of play in the early years within an educational context.

6.  Evaluate psychological research on the role of the media in the early years within an educational context.

Indicative Content

1 Child cognition and brain growth

The development of the brain in early childhood and its links to language and numerical skills.

2 Conceptual issues in learning

Domains (modules), critical periods, learning mechanisms (e.g. statistical learning, bootstrapping, innate constraints), nature-nurture.

3 Speech and sounds

Auditory perception, acquisition of phonemes, and the effects of prosody on acquisition of other parts of the language system.

4 Acquisition of words

Words, concepts and categories. Child-directed speech, literacy acquisition, language impairments.

5 Rules of language

Acquisition of morphology and syntax.

6 Learning to read

Theories of normal reading; dyslexia and hyperlexia.

7 Early numerical skills

Theories of mathematical development; early number and counting skills.

8 The role of play

Play inside and outside the classroom. How play influences cognitive and social development.

9 Media

The role of television viewing and computer games on children's development.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

This module explores development in the early years within an educational context. The first six weeks will focus on the cognitive changes that occur during the first years of life, including neuroanatomical changes, and outline language development within this framework. The next six weeks will build on this knowledge and explore other related areas such as reading and numerical skills. In addition, areas allied to early education such as play and the use of media will be covered. The teaching session will take the form of weekly lectures and fortnightly tutorials. The tutorials will comprise of student-led discussions of research, each one relating to the lecture content. This provides the students with the opportunity to pursue independent research related to the lecture content, and to develop critical review and oral presentation skills. Students will be expected to independently source their own relevant reading material to use as evidence to support the arguments they present at tutorials, and in the assessments. The first assessment is an individual presentation worth 50% of the grade. It will ask the students to show their understanding of the first part of the module which is focused on language development, and apply what they have learned to an educational setting. The second assessment is worth 50% of the final grade and assesses the students on their critical evaluation and written communication. In this assessment, they will synthesise their knowledge from the second part of the module and apply it to education in the early years. The module is designed to incorporate the Abertay Graduate Attributes. Intellectual development will include the expansion of their knowledge and critical evaluation skills. The level of independent learning will expand their professional skills, and the presentation will aid their personal development.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 24
Tutorial/Seminar 6
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 50
Independent 120

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/10 , and may be subject to change for future years.