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Child Language Acquisition

4. Producing Sounds

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In this module, we think about how the child learns to produce sounds, focusing in particular on the phenomenon of 'babbling'. As we move through the module, we consider: (i) what 'babbling' sounds like, and why certain sounds are preferred to others; (ii) the work of Jean Piaget (1896-1980) and Roman Jakobson (1896-1982) and the view that babbling has nothing to do with language per se; (iii) criticisms of this view, e.g. the fact that English 'babbling' sounds slightly different to French 'babbling'; (iv) the work of Marilyn Vihman and Lorraine McCune, and the view that babbling is closely linked to language; and (v) the importance of 'babbling' to the creation of a schematic representation of language components.


In this course, Professor Henriëtte Hendriks (University of Cambridge) provides an introduction to child language acquisition. In the first module, we provide an introduction to the study of language acquisition, before turning in the second module to explore three theories of child language acquisition: the behaviourist theory of language acquisition; the work of Noam Chomsky and the concept of universal grammar (UG); and the emergentist theory of language acquisition. In the six modules that follow, we go through each stage of language acquisition. In the third module, we explore the how children learn to segment the speech stream and begin to recognise individual sounds. In the fourth module, we think about how children start to produce sounds for themselves, and the extent to which 'babbling' is associated with language. In the fifth and sixth modules, we explore two theories for how children acquire words, before turning in the seventh module to consider the acquisition of syntax (or word order). Finally, in the eighth and ninth modules, we think about the acquisition of morphology, including the work of Roger Brown and Jean Berko's Wug Test.


Prof. Henriëtte Hendriks is Professor of Language Acquisition and Cognition at the University of Cambridge. Her principal interests are in applied- and psycholinguistics and more specifically in the interaction between language acquisition and cognition and language acquisition and culture, involving languages as different as Dutch, German, English, French, Chinese and Polish.

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APA style

Hendriks, H. (2022, April 21). Child Language Acquisition - Producing Sounds [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hendriks, H. "Child Language Acquisition – Producing Sounds." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 21 Apr 2022,

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