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Second Language Acquisition and the Younger Learner - Jenefer Philp

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Second Language Acquisition and the Younger Learner - Child's play?
Jenefer Philp
Paperback / softback
John Benjamins
UK Publication Date

This new volume of work highlights the distinctiveness of child SLA through a collection of different types of empirical research specific to younger learners. Characteristics of children's cognitive, emotional, and social development distinguish their experiences from those of adult L2 learners, creating intriguing issues for SLA research, and also raising important practical questions regarding effective pedagogical techniques for learners of different ages. While child SLA is often typically thought of as simple (and often enjoyable and universally effortless), in other words, as "child's play", the complex portraits of young second language learners which emerge in the 16 papers collected in this book invite the reader to reconsider the reality for many younger learners. Chapters by internationally renowned authors together with reports by emerging researchers describe second and foreign language learning by children ranging from pre-schoolers to young adolescents, in home and school contexts, with caregivers, peers, and teachers as interlocutors.

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This is a highly valuable and timely collection of studies examining various aspects of child SLA. It especially directs our attention to the crucial role of the learning context in the acquisition process.
Ellen Simon, Ghent University, The Journal of Child Language 37: 945-950

This outstanding collection of articles should forever silence those who still cling to the notion, repeated ad nauseam, that child first and second language acquisition are 'child's play', simple, enjoyable and effortless. It's primary aim is, as the editors state, 'to stimulate reflection about the unique nature of child SLA , as well as consideration of differences between younger children, older children and adolescents' (p.4). In this, they and their fellow authors succeed brilliantly. [...] The value of this collection lies in bringing together research, some of it previously published, in a number of areas to provide support for a thesis involving differential second language development in early, middle and older childhood, which has increasing relevance in terms of language learning policy and practice. Not only should this book be read by all those involved in SLA teaching and research, but also by teachers of foreign languages and those who decide on foreign and second language learning in our schools.
Robert Vanderplank, Oxford University Language Centre, in System 37: 741-752, 2009

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