Authors: Jan Berko Gleason, PhD and Nan Bernstein Ratner, EdD.
: Pearson – 433 pages
Book Review by
: Paiso Jamakar

This book is about the acquisition and development of language skills from infancy through adulthood. It covers the following topics:

  1. The Development of Language
  2. Communication and Development in Infancy
  3. Phonological Development
  4. Semantic Development
  5. Putting Words Together
  6. Language In Social Contexts: Development of Communicative Competence
  7. Theoretical Approaches to Language Acquisition
  8. Variation in Language Development: Implications for Research and Theory
  9. Atypical Language Development
  10. Language and Literacy in the School Years
  11. Developments in the Adult Years

This book is different from others on language development in several ways. The first is that it places emphasis and focus on children who are learning languages other than, or in addition to, English; how they are different, and what they do differently.

The other difference is its emphasis on children with risk factors such as language learning delays and disorders. Another difference is that it looks at children with cultural influences that explain group and individual variation in acquiring language proficiency and skills.

Eighteen experts and specialists, including the two editors, in different areas of language development and linguistics, contributed to the content of this book.

What is new in this eighth edition of the book?

  • More cross-linguistic coverage of language acquisition, which is invaluable to students in all fields because of the growing population of non-English speaking people in the U.S.
  • New coverage of infant development and precursors to language development in chapter two, which emphasizes why the first year of life sets the stage for typical language development
  • Expanded coverage of contemporary topics such as communication in non-human primates
  • Newest research on the nature and most effective treatment of language disorders in children
  • Recent findings on language use in mature  and older adults
  • Revised projects and activities, engaging the reader with extended, hands-on, and real-world applications

This book has been written for courses in upper-level undergraduate and graduate-level courses in linguistics. It can also be part of reading materials for courses in: cognition, developmental psychology, psycholinguistics, speech pathology, and related subjects. The users of this book do not need previous knowledge of linguistics to benefit from this book, Gleason and Ratner point out. It is an excellent text that uses research findings to back up its conclusions and recommendations.

Authors and Editors:
Jan Berko Gleason, PhD
is professor emerita in the Department of Psychology at Boston University, where she has served as chair and as director of the Graduate Program in Development Science.  She is also a faculty member and former director of Boston University’s Graduate Program in Applied Linguistics. She has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University, Stanford University, and at the Linguistics Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest.

A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Psychological Association, she was elected president of the International Association for the Study of Child Language. She is also past president of the Gypsy Lore Society. He background includes an undergraduate in history and literature and a PhD in linguistics and psychology from Harvard.

Nan Bernstein Ratner, EdD, C.C.C.  is professor and chair of the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at the University of Maryland in College Park, where she has worked since 1983. She holds degrees in Child Study (Tufts University), Speech-Language Pathology (Temple University), and Applied Psycholinguistics (Boston University(.

With Jan Berko Gleason, she has also coauthored the text Psycholinguistics. Her research has centered on typical and atypical parent-child interaction and speech and language development in children, with an emphasis on children who stutter, and more recently children with seizure disorder, She is Specialty Board recognized in child language and in fluency disorders.

John H. Bohannon III – Butler University
John D. Bonvillan – University of Virginia
Judith Becker Bryant – University of South Florida
Carol Stoel-Gammon – University of Washington
Jan Berko Gleason – Boston University
Beverly A/ Goldfield – Rhode Island College
Lise Menn – University of Colorado
Gigliana Melzi – New York University
Rochelle Newman – University of Maryland
Lorraine K. Obler – City University of New York Graduate Center
Barbara Alexander Pan –  Harvard Graduate School of Education
Nan Bernstein Ratner – University of Maryland, College Park
Jacqueline Sachs – University of Connecticut
Adina R. Schick – New York University
Catherine E. Snow – Harvard Graduate School of Education
Paola Uccelli – Harvard Graduate School of Education
Ingrid A. Willenberg – Marquette University
Andrea Zukowski – University of Maryland