I've been trying to find literature that talks about steps taken to typically learn a language. I know that based on what I've read that children start from a one-word stage to multi-word stage. What I'm asking is, is there some kind of literature/paper/etc. to goes into great details about what are the currently known steps in terms of language acquisition?

Just to start the conversation. One book I've been recommended to read is Tomasello's Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition.

  • Welcome to Language Learning Stack Exchange. Could you clarify whether you are only interested in current or recent theories or also in older theories?
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 17:54
  • @ChristopheStrobbe any non debunked theories.
    – stevestark
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 2:31
  • @ChristopheStrobbe thanks for welcoming me
    – stevestark
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 2:32
  • You might find this useful: languagelearning.stackexchange.com/q/2694 Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


How Children Learn Language is a book that covers this topic. This is the book's summary:

Demonstrating how children learn to produce and distinguish between sounds, and their acquisition of words and meanings, this book explains their incredible mastery of language. William O'Grady provides readers with an overview not only of the language acquisition process itself, but also of the ingenious experiments and techniques that researchers use to investigate this mysterious phenomenon.

How Babies Talk: The Magic and Mystery of Language in the First Three Years of Life is a related book. The summary is:

In their first three years of life, babies face the most complex learning endeavor they will ever undertake as human beings: They learn to talk. Now, as researchers make new forays into the mystery of the development of the human brain, Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek, both developmental psychologists and language experts, offer parents a powerfully insightful guidebook to how infants—even while in the womb—begin to learn language. Along the way, the authors provide parents with the latest scientific findings, developmental milestones, and important advice on how to create the most effective learning environments for their children. This book takes readers on a fascinating, vitally important exploration of the dance between nature and nurture, and explains how parents can help their children learn more successfully.

Finally, Child Language: Acquisition and Growth is a Cambridge linguistics textbook. This is its focus:

Exploring language development from birth, this accessible textbook introduces the field of child language acquisition, establishing key theoretical debates. It considers what characteristics of the human mind make it possible to acquire language and to what extent acquisition is biologically programmed and influenced by our environment. It inquires as to what makes second language learning (in adulthood) different from first language acquisition; and whether the specific stages in language development are universal across languages. It will be a key text for courses in linguistics, developmental psychology and cognitive science.

  • @stevestark was the book helpful in what you're looking for?
    – fi12
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 20:46
  • i'm still skimming the book. it seems to give a good overview of what happens in terms of what a child learns over the years. Do you have other book recommendations like it? Do you also have recommendations on books that go more in depth?
    – stevestark
    Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 4:51
  • i'm still skimming the book. Do you have other book recommendations like it?
    – stevestark
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 10:35
  • @stevestark I've added a few more books to the answer.
    – fi12
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 13:26
  • 1
    WOW! thanks for the help. I'm especially liking what I'm reading in "Child Language: Acquisition and Growth". Again thanks for these books.
    – stevestark
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 12:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.