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Child Language

Child Language
Acquisition and Development

Second Edition
Additional resources:

November 2017 | 408 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Presented with the latest thinking and research on how children acquire their first language, this new Second Edition helps readers develop the skills to engage with key debates and current research in the field of child language. This practical text assumes the reader has no background knowledge of linguistic theory and all specialist terms are introduced in clear, non-technical language. A theme running through the book is the nature-nurture debate, rekindled in the modern era by Noam Chomsky, with his belief that the child is born with a rich knowledge of language. Child Language is rare in its balanced presentation of evidence from both sides of the nature-nurture divide. The reader is then encouraged to adopt a critical stance throughout and weigh up the evidence for themselves.

Chapter 1: Landmarks in the Landscape of Child Language
Chapter 2: Can Animals Acquire Human Language? Shakespeare's Typewriter
Chapter 3: The Critical Period Hypothesis: Now or Never?
Chapter 4: Input and Interaction: Tutorials for Toddlers
Chapter 5: Language in the First Year: Breaking the Sound Barrier
Chapter 6: The Developing Lexicon: What's in a Name?
Chapter 7: The Acquisition of Morphology: Linguistic Lego
Chapter 8: Linguistic Nativism: To the Grammar Born
Chapter 9: The Usage-Based Approach: Making It up as You Go along
Chapter 10: You Say Nature, I Say Nurture: Better Call the Calling off off

Writing in a conversational, playful voice Matthew Saxton offers a particularly engaging and accessible introduction to a wealth of knowledge about language. He models how language allows us both to share personal interests and enthusiasms and to build more public understanding by publishing and arguing about research findings.

Rod Parker-Rees, Associate Professor in Early Childhood Studies
Plymouth University

Engaging and well-organized, this textbook highlights nature-nurture debate, mismatches between comprehension and production, individual variation, and methodological issues. The second edition adds web-based support for teachers and students, including test questions and instructional slides. Updated references, some re-ordered material, and a new state-of-the-art ending further enhance this excellent textbook.

Professor Cecile McKee
Linguistics Department, University of Arizona

This book is an extremely clear and accessible introduction to a complex and fascinating subject, essential reading not only for its target audience of psychology students but also for Early Years teachers and students. Welcome touches of humor enliven balanced and detailed explanations of theory, debates, and research evidence.

Kate Allott, Senior Lecturer
School of Education, York St John University

This book offers a comprehensive overview of the subject of child language acquisition, and provides a balanced, unbiased discussion of the various issues and debates surrounding the topic. Saxton makes complex, and at times controversial, topics accessible and relevant, and the text will be invaluable for students of language, linguistics and psychology alike.

Dr Kate Scott, Senior Lecturer
Kingston University London

Mathew Saxton’s Child Language is an excellent book on a difficult to understand (and explain) field. The book covers the what we know about child language development in a readily accessible, readable and at times amusing format, which is perfect for UGs who have no previous knowledge in the field. This book is the best general book on child language development that I’ve seen and I welcome the updated second edition.

Dr. Michelle St Clair
Psychology Department, University of Bath

Simply and cogently written, this is a must-have handbook to any student, professional, or academic interested in child language, with very useful pedagogical features such as discussion boxes, case studies and exercises.

Dr. Jo Van Herwegen
Kingston University, London

Really great textbooks are few and far between – this is one. It is engaging, interesting, and balanced. I can recommend it highly.

Stephen Howe
Fukuoka University, Japan

Matthew Saxton provides a compelling account and comprehensive overview of child language acquisition and development . Engagingly written in a style that draws the reader in, the book covers all the bases and provides an excellent introduction to and overview of the area.

Dr Wendy Sims-Schouten, Reader in Childhood Studies
University of Portsmouth

Once again Matthew has managed to tackle one of life’s most complex and confusing aspects in an accessible and engaging way. His engaging style, clarity and humour enable him to demystify the most vexing of language development conundrums.

Dr Carla Solvason
Institute of Education, University or Worcester

What makes Child Language: acquisition and development such a useful book for A Level English Language teachers is its clear sense of overview, helpful explanations of research and theory and extensive supporting material. If you are looking for something that bridges the gap between A Level textbooks and more challenging academic texts, this is perfect.

Dan Clayton
English and Media Centre
Key features
  • Boxes and exercises to foster an understanding of key concepts in language and linguistics
  • A list of useful websites at the end of each chapter
  • A glossary of key terms
  • Suggestions for further reading
  • Discussion points for use in class
  • Separate author and subject indexes