1st Edition

An Introduction to Child Language

By Carolyn Letts Copyright 2025
    242 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    242 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This accessible and inclusive new textbook introduces Child Language Acquisition (CLA) with unique coverage of bilingual and early second language development as well as first languages. The majority of children worldwide will grow up to be bi- or multilingual, and early second language acquisition is a very common experience for migrant children and those in more well-established ethnic minority communities across the world. The book explores the major stages of child language development below the age of five years, covering social context, early words, combing words, inflections and function words, complexity, and use of language, but also some of the major developments that take place post five years.

    Including recent developments in the area, this introduction:

    • Emphasises the interactive development of the component skills involved in language and the wider skills on which language depends

    • Incorporates bilingual language development throughout, covering both two first languages and early naturalistic second language acquisition

    • Takes a cross-linguistic and cross-cultural approach, considering the role of input and child-directed speech in the light of recent debate about links between socio-economic status and CLA and supposed ‘deficient’ language learning environments for some groups of children

    Supported with examples taken from child language data and experimental studies as well as exercises and activities, this student-friendly text is an essential course textbook for any module on child language acquisition.

    List of Tables and Figures



    Chapter 1. A Brief History of Child Language Research 

    Chapter 2. What does the Child have to Learn?

    Chapter 3. Starting Out: The Social World of the Child (1) 

    Chapter 4. Making Sense of the Chaos: Early Words

    Chapter 5. Combining Words 

    Chapter 6. Adding Complexity 

    Chapter 7. Putting it All into Practice: The Social World of the Child (2) 

    Chapter 8. Theory, Disorder, and Socio-Economic Status



    Appendix: Answers to Exercises



    Carolyn Letts is a Visiting Fellow at Newcastle University, UK. She trained as a Speech & Language Therapist (SLT) and worked for many years in higher education as a lecturer in speech-language pathology with a focus on language acquisition and impairment in children. She is currently working as co-investigator on the Language Intervention in the Early Years (LIVELY) project.