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How Children Learn Language (Cambridge Approaches to Linguistics) Paperback – 3 Jan 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (3 Jan. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521531926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521531924
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 341,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'The engaging style of the book, and its accessibility combined with its scientific rigour make this volume ideal for a lay audience and for introductory undergraduate courses to language acquisition.' The Journal of Child Language

Book Description

This engaging and accessible book explains the incredible mastery of language by young children, discussing how they learn to produce and distinguish among sounds, and their acquisition of words and meanings, and of the rules for building sentences. An invaluable resource for anyone wishing to discover how children acquire language.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By jessmay_93 on 15 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As I am studying English Language at University, I foudn this book very useful for the Child Language Acquisition modules. The explanations are concise and very clear. Would definitely recommend for students of English, or for those just interested in Child Language Acquisition!
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful By book maniac on 24 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
This book exclusively deals with the issue of how children learn 'English'. Unfortunately, you won't notice this point until you finish reading this book, because either the table of contents or the first chapter doesn't tell you about that. The theses made in this book might apply to languages other than English, but it's tempting to assume that it is not the case. Although the author sporadically refers to the case of other languages, which serves primarily to spell out the case of English, he mention almost nothing about whether his theses are still applicable to other languages. The author may well have neglected the difference of learning different languages. That's why I think that the book title might have misled readers.

Apart from the matter of book title, it's still a good read for parents or those who will become parents in the not-to-distant future. Students, who are interested in linguistics or learning foreign languages, may well find something inspiring in this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating! 19 Mar. 2006
By Rodger Shepherd - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a father, grandfather, and former pediatrician, I have observed many children acquire a language. However, only recently did I become deeply curious about this mysterious process. This book proved to be exactly what I needed. The presentation is orderly, well-written, and very readable. The process of language acquisition is analysed and described clearly. The clever methods of researchers in this field are made understandable and fascinating. The mysteries remaining to be explained are presented frankly. This is a book that both parents and professionals can read for both pleasure and enlightenment.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Very good summary of current knowledge, clearly presented 18 Aug. 2013
By bukhtan - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book, written by a linguist at the University of Hawaii, is a good introduction to current academic thinking on children's first-language acquisition. It is not intended as a guide for parents, per se, but is usable for parents interested in this aspect of their children's development (there are occasional interjections to the effect "not to worry"). It's written in a very clear style with a very logical arrangement, without jargon drawn from linguistics. The discussion is limited almost entirely to an English monolingual environment, and does not go beyond early childhood and the acquisition of the local basic grammar and vocabulary.

The author starts by examining how children learn the meaning of words in isolation and how sentence structure and other elements of grammar appear to be acquired. Only in the second part does he explore phonology; with good grounds for the general reader, as this involves considerably greater abstraction. Thereupon some sociolinguistics appear, in the context of differing parental behaviors. Finally, the author discusses abstract models of human language as they bear on language learning; is the language learning facility a separate brain function, unto itself, or is it just an extension of other parts of human mental equipment? All of this is discussed in the clearest and most concrete terms.

Brief appendices include the International Phonetic Alphabet as it is used in the book and some tips for keeping diary-style records of a child's languistic behavior and progression. In this context I might mention that the single "how to/how not to" element occurs in the author's discussion of "re-casting"; does adult repetion of children's statements, in standard grammatical format, correcting deviations from local norms, help children acquire these norms? The answer appears to be "no".

A minor quibble: when referring to children by pronouns, the author randomly switches between "he" and "she" when sex is not at issue. When parents are referred to, the author inevitably uses the word "mother", in which case sex could conceivably be an issue in terms of linguistic usage or other behaviors. It would have been clearer in my opinion if the author had followed what is current colloquial English usage and said "they, them" etc. If parents are meant, say "parents". But this sort of thing is common in writing in academia, even when the audience consists of non-academics, as in this case.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Elementary but good 9 Aug. 2013
By Peter Luykx - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very elementary linguistics, but a good introduction to the field, raising the basic questions and giving good examples, along with information on the timing of the child's acquisition of different categories of language ability.
1 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Compilation of Research 14 July 2006
By L. Hart - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have a 13 month old who is still babbling, and turned to this book for direction with her language development. While I found some of the information interesting, it is mostly a compilation and description of all of the relevant research associated with language development. There were a lot of examples and (unnecessary) visual aids, but nothing that really gave me the insight I was looking for (i.e. how to aid her in attaining this milestone). Basically, they proved that there is nothing specific one can do and that children will begin talking when they are ready. I wish I had simply read the summary first, as it would have saved me a lot of time!
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