Child Language Acquisition

Alison Sparks and Diana Leyva

in Latino Studies

ISBN: 9780199913701
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:
Child Language Acquisition

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  • History of the Americas
  • US Cultural History


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The study of language acquisition in children growing up in Latino families is a burgeoning field of research found in work that spans the social-science disciplines. These studies employ a broad range of methodologies and explore the linguistic, psychological, and sociocultural contexts of language learning. Latino children are members of the largest minority group within the United States. Some Latino children descend from the indigenous people who lived in North America before the colonial explorations, while others trace their roots to the many Spanish-speaking countries of the world. They grow up in a complex linguistic and cultural mix, making them a fascinating group of children for the study of language acquisition. Thus, Latino children are an important source for understanding language lived in rich cultural-linguistic environments, which is increasingly the norm for child development in societies throughout the world. An important challenge for researchers who work on language acquisition among Latino children is to understand the cognitive-linguistic processes that may be universally or specifically observed in bilingual children learning two languages from an early age. Another area of research explores the sociolinguistic world of children who grow up in Latino families, examining their unique ways of learning to communicate in a mélange of linguistic codes. An important piece of this research has been to understand the developmental pathways for literacy learning in children who are English-language learners. Latino children, who represent almost a quarter of all children enrolled in public schools, are at high risk for academic problems, beginning in the early years of formal schooling. Understanding the complex processes of oral and written language development is especially important for educators, researchers, and policymakers who are seeking to improve this group’s academic success at all levels of education in the United States. The work included here not only focuses on English- and Spanish-speaking populations within the United States and its territories, but it also includes work with Spanish-speaking families in other countries of the world. Although this series defines Latinos as people in the United States who are members of Spanish-speaking communities and cultures living in the United States, studies that compare the development of Spanish-speaking children in the United States to their peers in Latin America or Spain add an important comparative element to this research and are included here to highlight the truly global perspective afforded to us by studying language acquisition from the Latino perspective. Finally, in this work we do not separate the research into topic headings because many of the studies cut across organizational themes. For instance, there is no separate section on bilingualism, because the experience of the bilingual is such a fundamental part of Latino life that work on this topic appears in every section of the bibliography.

Article.  4354 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; US Cultural History

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