Beyond Baby Talk: From Sounds to Sentences--A Parent's Complete Guide to Language Development

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Crown Publishing Group, Nov 18, 2009 - Family & Relationships - 256 pages
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From "Goo" to Gab — Guiding Your Child to Effective Communication
The first five years of a child's life are the most critical for speech and language development, and, as a parent, you are your child's primary language role model. So what are the best ways to help your child develop the all-important skill of communication? Fun, easy, and engaging, this book shows you how! Inside, you'll discover all of the essential steps and checkpoints from birth through age five, tips to help your child progress on schedule, and easy methods to:
Evaluate and monitor your child's language development
Understand and deal with environmental impacts such as television and cultural styles
Recognize the signs of language development problems
And much, much more!

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Beyond Baby Talk by authors Kenn Apel, Ph.D, and Julie Masterson, Ph.D, is an informative read for a child’s language development. Not only do Apel and Masterson highly emphasize that parents are the dominant language role models for kids, but they also reassure parents that no fancy flashcards, recordings, or teaching techniques are necessary for children to acquire language.
The most important point that the authors hit home in this book is the fact that children acquire language naturally and with their own style. While Apel and Masterson present their own children as examples, they remind readers that no two children are the same in learning these necessary communication skills. Apel and Masterson also address many pressing issues that parents usually have including the influence of gender, birth order, bilingualism, culture, and media on language development. This includes the controversial use of child-directed speech (CDS), also known as baby talk, or the special style of speech people use when talking to small children or animals. While many people may disagree with the use of baby talk with children developing language skills, Apel and Masterson assure readers that CDS is more beneficial than not in language development. From my perspective, while others may disagree, CDS is only appropriate up to a certain age, about five or six. Afterwards, CDS may hinder language acquisition more than help its development. Nonetheless, when it comes down to it, the main point in all of the topics of concern is that the parents are responsible for the settings, the situations, and the encouraging in which their children are put for healthy language acquisition.
When writing Beyond Baby Talk, the authors chose to use the pronouns he, she, him, and her to refer to a general child, as opposed to the word they or them. A strange characteristic, if you ask me. While reading the introduction, I came across phrases such as, “The real boosts and edges to enriching your child’s language development come from common, everyday, personal interaction between a child and the people who care about him.” At first I thought they were typos, but the authors explained that they would alternate between male and female pronouns throughout the book because English does not have a “gender-neutral, singular pronoun.” I disagree with this opinion because the authors are referring to children as a general collective whole with the word child and also because while they and their are unacceptable in more formal writings as singular pronouns, in everyday English, they and their are both singular and plural.
Overall, Beyond Baby Talk is a highly informative and easy read for new parents. While it is a bit repetitive in the emphasizing of their main arguments of language not being taught, but rather developed and parents as important role models, the information presented is more than insightful and full of advice for the worrisome mom and dad. Though this book includes topics covered in linguistics, there are not enough connections that can be drawn directly from the information presented in class to the information in the book. Beyond Baby Talk is nonetheless a fun read. However, the target readers of this book are parents or soon-to-be parents, not linguistics students, unless you have a particular interest in children’s language development.

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About the author (2009)

Kenn Apel, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a professor of communication disorders and sciences at Witchita State University and a widely known educator and specialist in childhood language.

Julie J. Masterson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a nationally known educator and specialist in child language development. She is a professor of communication sciences and disorders at Southwest Missouri State University.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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