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Child Language Acquisition

5. Stages of Development

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In this module, we look at the way a child’s development from the second trimester of pregnancy to five years old, focusing in particular on: (i) the extent to which an unborn child can hear what’s happening outside the womb – and how this can be tested; (ii) the level of understanding at birth – and how this can be tested; (iii) the level of understanding after six months; (iv) the babbling phase (6-8 months); (v) first words (8-12 months); (vi) the two-word stage (18-24) and the extent to which children are genuinely producing two-word sentences rather than echoing a two-word phrase they have heard; (vii) the growing understanding of morphology and syntax, including ‘telegraphic speech’ (2-2.5 years); (viii) the movement to 3+ word sentences and beyond (3+ years); and (ix) the state of a child’s language when they start school.


In this course, Professor Ben Ambridge (University of Liverpool) explores childhood language acquisition. In the first module, we explore how children learn to distinguish the basic sounds (phonemes) that make up their mother tongue. In the second module, we think about how children learn new words, before turning in the third module to explore how children learn the rules of morphology – and how we can test for that understanding. In the fourth module, we think about how children learn the rules of syntax, before moving on in the fifth module to a general timeline of child language acquisition from the middle of the second trimester to five years old.


Professor Ben Ambridge is Professor of Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool. His research focuses on children's first language acquisition, mostly using judgment and production methodologies. He is particularly interested in children's errors involving question formation (e.g., *What he doesn't like?) and verb argument structure overgeneralization errors (e.g., *The joked giggled him; *I falled over). Among many academic publications, he is also the author of the popular science book Psy-Q, Are You Smarter than a Chimpanzee? (2014).

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APA style

Ambridge, B. (2021, January 05). Child Language Acquisition - Stages of Development [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Ambridge, Ben. "Child Language Acquisition – Stages of Development." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 05 Jan 2021,

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