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How Children Learn Language.

HOW CHILDREN LEARN LANGUAGE. William O'Grady. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2005. 240 pp. Softcover. $24.99. Surprisingly, even after three decades of research about children's language acquisition, nobody has compiled all of the results of the researchers, giving a complete definition and clarifying how children learn language, which is an extremely important aspect for early childhood education today. William O'Grady, a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Hawaii, illustrates how children acquire new words, how they discover and build them, and how they are able to identify the meaning of new words. Furthermore, he explains how children build sentences by combining words into patterns of particular sorts, and how they perceive and pronounce sounds.

O'Grady gives a complete overview of all the pieces of children's language acquisition process and the contributions of researchers in the field, with their basis and experiences. He summarizes: "And tying it all together is the ability to learn--to form generalizations that have a good chance of being right the first time and to make corrections where there's a mistake" (p. 197). He points out that language still has mysteries that cannot be answered now, but in time more revelations may occur. Later, he concludes, "It has been probed and analyzed and studied for over two thousand years, [yet] we still understand relatively little about how it works. The mystery is compounded by the fact that every year, tens of millions of children around the world quickly and effortlessly go about the job of language learning, creating the puzzle that we've been considering in this book" (p. 197).

The strength of this wonderful literary production lies in its simple and illustrative manner and how the author makes the research information reported here accessible to parents, students, and other people who are not in the field. Ultimately, the book will pique readers' curiosity about how language works and how it is learned by children, and will provide them with useful knowledge about children's needs in the process of language acquisition. Reviewed by Maria C. Gomis, pre-kindergarten teacher for children with disabilities, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and currently Ph.D. student at Barry University, Miami Shores, FL
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Author:Gomis, Maria C.
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 2006
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