Development of language

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this module you should be able to:


  • describe the sequence of normal childhood language development


  • explain different theoretical frameworks of childhood language development, including behaviourist, nativist and interactionist theories


  • identify environmental and biological factors that can influence normal language development


  • describe how language development is different for deaf children and children of deaf parents


  • describe communicative competence and its components.


Module introduction

The process by which the smiles and gurgles of an infant develop to form the rich language of adulthood has long been the subject of research and debate, and various theories have been proposed to provide an explanation for the development of language.


Language development requires the appropriate use of signs and symbols that follow grammatical rules and can be combined to produce novel expressions.


Whilst the sequence of language development broadly follows the same pattern in different cultures, various influences can affect or alter the process.


In this module you will learn about the normal sequence of childhood language development and the different theoretical frameworks that have been proposed to explain how language is acquired.


We will also consider different environmental and biological factors that can influence normal language development. In the final section, we will define and look at the different components of communicative competence.


Learning notes

We recommend that you make some notes as you work through this module.


The 'TrOn Notebook' facility can be accessed throughout the module (allowing you to make notes on each page), and these notes will be saved in your personal area 'My TrOn', for future reference. However, you will not be able to print these notes as one single document.


If you would prefer to make your notes in a separate document you may wish to download the 'learning notes' below. This downloadable Word document will allow you to keep a personalised record of your learning, which you can then save and/or print for future reference.


Download the learning notes document for this module


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