Administrative Unit: Language Institute
College/School: College of Letters & Science
Admitting Plans: Ph.D.
Degrees Offered: Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates: Doctoral Minor

Second language acquisition or SLA is the systematic study of learning, using, and sometimes losing any form of language beyond the mother tongue. Research in SLA is a burgeoning field because today there are more people who use at least two languages than there are monolinguals. For individual learners and for every community in diaspora, second language acquisition is an experience that challenges their knowledge of language, their understanding of different cultures, and their personal identity. These challenges are studied by SLA researchers, scholars whose training is in a variety of fields—linguistics, psychology, sociology, education, anthropology, and communication arts—a variety that makes the study of SLA richly interdisciplinary.

The Ph.D. program in second language acquisition at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is a rigorous and coherently interdisciplinary academic program in a field that embodies the university’s mission to foster the study of globally important issues. In their coursework, students in the program learn from the experiences of a distinguished faculty in many departments and, in their dissertation research, students share with faculty the discovery of new knowledge. Students develop a thorough understanding of the many facets of SLA, including language pedagogy, the study of multilingualism, language acquisition and loss, and multilingual language use in contexts of education, the workplace, and the family. Through the program, students develop skills in research in the sociology and psychology of knowing two or more languages and in the linguistics of languages in contact. A Ph.D. in SLA opens the door to scholarly and professional careers as university faculty, directors of foreign language programs, educational policy makers, and multilingual specialists.

Faculty: Professors Chavez (German), Evans-Romaine (Slavic Languages and Literature), Frantzen (Spanish and Portuguese), Hawkins (Curriculum and Instruction), Mori (East Asian Languages and Literature), Tochon (Curriculum and Instruction), Young (English); Associate Professors Allen, Geyer (East Asian Languages and Literature), Stafford (Spanish and Portuguese), Pacheco (Curriculum and Instruction), Thompson (African Languages and Literature); Assistant Professor Cho