History of Linguistics: To Speak Like a Child

How children acquire language is a question that continues to be of fascination to medical scientists and educationists. They all owe a debt to Charles West, 19th-century pioneer of specialist paediatrics, as Paula Hellal explains

Charles West

The 21st century has seen an upsurge in interest in the speech of young children. Government reports, educational policies, newspaper articles and the ‘Talk to Your Baby’ campaign established in 2003 by the National Literacy Trust reflect growing concern that a significant minority of Britain’s children are starting school with poorly developed speaking and listening skills. Poor communication within families attributed to current lifestyles is usually held to blame. Much recent discussion concerns remedial strategies to be carried out at school to encourage young children to listen and talk.

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