Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning

2012 Edition
| Editors: Norbert M. Seel

Infant Language Learning

  • Karen Mattock
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1428-6_1830



Infant language learning refers to how young children (0–2 years) acquire knowledge about what sounds are in their language, how they learn where words begin and end in fluent speech and that words map on to referents in their environment, and how vocabulary (expressive and receptive) and sensitivity to syntactic forms (word order/sentence structure) is acquired.

Theoretical Background

There are a number of accounts of infant language learning that differ in terms of their emphasis on endogenous mechanisms, environmental influences, or a combination.

The notion that infants possess learning mechanisms that have evolved for language acquisition is the core of the domain-specific view of language learning held by nativists. Nativists argue that infants are born with a language-specific learning device whereby aspects of the formal structure of language are...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Gomez, R., & Gerken, L. A. (1999). Artificial grammar learning by 1-year-olds leads to specific and abstract knowledge. Cognition, 70, 109–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Johnson, E. K., & Jusczyk, P. W. (2001). Word segmentation by 8-month-olds. When speech cues count more than statistics. Journal of Memory and Language, 44, 548–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Jusczyk, P. W. (1997). The discovery of spoken language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Lust, B. C., & Foley, C. (2004). First language acquisition: the essential readings. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  5. Polka, L., Rvachew, S., & Mattock, K. (2007). Experiential influences on speech perception and speech production in infancy. In E. Hoff & M. Shatz (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of language development (pp. 153–172). Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLancaster UniversityLancasterUK