Product Information Teaching Resources

Understanding Second Language Acquisition

Understanding Second Language Acquisition cover

Share Print

Buy from

Understanding Second Language Acquisition

Second Edition

Format: Paperback
See also: e-book | e-book
prize graphic icon

Honorable Mention - MLA's Kenneth W. Mildenberger Prize 2015-2016

This new, fully updated edition continues to provide an authoritative and highly readable introduction to key areas of theory and research in second language acquisition.

  • ISBN: 978-0-19-442204-8
  • Pages: 376
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Dimensions: 234x156 mm

Key features

  • The author presents a comprehensive overview of the different theories in this field and examines critical reactions to them.
  • The book reflects recent trends in looking at cognitive and social aspects of second language acquisition, as well as examining the roles played by implicit and explicit instruction in language learning.
  • Additional online resources are available at


The series attracts single or co-authored volumes from authors researching at the cutting edge of this dynamic field of interdisciplinary enquiry. The titles range from books that make such developments accessible to the non-specialist reader to those which explore in depth their relevance for the way language is to be conceived as a subject, and how courses and classroom activities are to be designed. As such, these books not only extend the field of applied linguistics itself and lend an additional significance to its enquiries, but also provide an indispensable professional foundation for language pedagogy and its practice.

The scope of the series includes:
  • second language acquisition
  • bilingualism and multi/plurilingualism
  • language pedagogy and teacher education
  • testing and assessment
  • language planning and policy
  • language internationalization
  • technology-mediated communication
  • discourse-, conversation-, and contrastive-analysis
  • pragmatics
  • stylistics
  • lexicography
  • translation


  • An excellent and much-needed, in-depth review of the research on how children and literate adults learn a second language. Ellis provides a sound knowledge base for language teachers and beginning graduate students in applied linguistics, focusing on relevant findings of research on second-language learning by children and literate adults in both naturalistic and instructed contexts.
    - Elaine Tarone, Director of the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, University of Minnesota
  • '[Ellis] fills a gap in the SLA research base. This is a much needed source of information in the study area... This book is intended for a broad audience: undergraduate students who want to explore the field of SLA; graduate students who are involved with applied linguistics and language teaching; and teachers who want to understand better how L2 learners learn in different contexts, and also how about implicit and explicit language learning differ... The author recognizes different studies in SLA research and provides valuable information on theory and research.'
    - Linguist List
  • 'It is 30 years since Rod Ellis wrote the award-winning and classic Understanding Second Language Acquisition, so an update was probably well overdue... The scope of this edition is wider than its predecessor; it remain scholarly yet accessible, and it will doubtless acquire just as many enthusiastic followers.'
    - English Teaching Professional
  • 'Rod Ellis has made a twofold contribution to SLA, as a researcher in his own right and as an indefatigable chronicler of the field. In this latter capacity, as the author of this book, he writes - as always - clearly, accessibly and objectively, referring to, comparing and evaluating a huge range of studies old and new, highlighting the benefits and shortcomings of different approaches to research, the theoretical assumptions behind them and the soundness of the conclusions which have been drawn from them. Throughout the text, there are clear summaries of key points, and key terms (about 220 of them) are highlighted in the text and explained in a glossary... What of the relevance of this book to English language teachers? Well, it would be hard to disagree with the author's contention that: "An understanding of how learners learn a foreign language seems to me an essential requirement for language teachers."'
    - Modern English Teacher
  • "Understanding Second Language Acquisition, second edition, represents a historic scholarly achievement and unique contribution to the teaching of languages. Writing for teachers and those preparing to become teachers, Rod Ellis provides the most comprehensive and balanced overview of the field of second language acquisition available today. Theoretically and linguistically sophisticated, the text seeks to provide teachers with a ?basis for making pedagogical decisions in a principled way.? This edition contains new chapters on social and cognitive aspects of the field as well as on explicit and implicit instruction. Ellis has contributed to the preparation of generations of modern language teachers; the second edition will ensure that this vital resource will now meet the needs of a new generation."
    - MLA's Kenneth W. Mildenberger Prize panel


Second language acquisition research: an overview

Age and second language acquisition

Psychological factors and second language acquisition

The development of a second language

Variability in learner language

The role of the first language

Input and interaction: the cognitive-interactionist perspective

Cognitive aspects of second language acquisition

Social aspects of second language acquisition

The role of explicit instruction

The role of implicit instruction

Understanding and applying second language acquisition

Part of... Oxford Applied Linguistics

Home to the most innovative studies in its field, the Oxford Applied Linguistics series furthers research in English teaching and learning, and provides strong foundations for language pedagogy.

View Series