7 Language Development

Developmental Psychology


  1. Laura Wagner1,
  2. Erika Hoff2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop206007

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Wagner, L. and Hoff, E. 2012. Language Development. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 6:III:7.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Ohio State University, Department of Psychology, Columbus, Ohio, USA

  2. 2

    Florida Atlantic University, Department of Psychology, Davie, Florida, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


This chapter reviews four major theoretical approaches to the study of language development: the Biological, the Linguistic, the Social Pragmatic and the Domain-General Cognitive. Each approach is described and evaluated with respect to its strengths and weaknesses. Major issues from the field are discussed, including the critical period for language, the poverty of the stimulus argument, nativism, and statistical learning. Evidence from the domains of phonological, lexical, and syntactic development are considered. The chapter argues that each approach has made important contributions, but none alone has so far been able to account for the entirety of the phenomenon of language acquisition.


  • language acquisition;
  • language development;
  • critical period hypothesis;
  • lexical development;
  • nativism