© 2020

Language and Concept Acquisition from Infancy Through Childhood

Learning from Multiple Exemplars

  • Jane B. Childers

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Jane B. Childers
    Pages 1-9
  3. Scott P. Johnson
    Pages 11-30
  4. Marianella Casasola, Youjeong Park
    Pages 31-58
  5. Susan J. Hespos, Erin Anderson, Dedre Gentner
    Pages 79-104
  6. Susan A. Graham, Michelle S. Zepeda, Ena Vukatana
    Pages 105-130
  7. David M. Sobel, Elena Luchkina, Kristen Tummeltshammer
    Pages 179-196
  8. Stella Christie
    Pages 221-245
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 253-259

About this book


This book examines the role of experience-based learning on children’s acquisition of language and concepts. It reviews, compares, and contrasts accounts of how the opportunity to recognize and generalize patterns influences learning. The book offers the first systematic integration of three highly influential research traditions in the domains of language and concept acquisition: Statistical Learning, Structural Alignment, and the Bayesian learning perspective. Chapters examine the parameters that constrain learning, address conditions that optimize learning, and offer explanations for cases in which implicit exemplar-based learning fails to occur. By exploring both the benefits and challenges children face as they learn from multiple examples, the book offers insight on how to better able to understand children’s early unsupervised learning about language and concepts. 

Topics featured in this book include:

  • Competing models of statistical learning and how learning might be constrained by infants’ developing cognitive abilities.
  • How experience with multiple exemplars helps infants understand space and other relations.
  • The emergence of category-based inductive reasoning during infancy and early childhood.
  • How children learn individual verbs and the verb system over time.  
  • How statistical learning leads to aggregation and abstraction in word learning.
  • Mechanisms for evaluating others’ reliability as sources of knowledge when learning new words.
  • The Search for Invariance (SI) hypothesis and its role in facilitating causal learning.

Language and Concept Acquisition from Infancy Through Childhood is an essential resource for researchers, clinicians and related professionals, and graduate students in infancy and early child development, applied linguistics, language education, child, school, and developmental psychology and related mental health and education services.


Bayesian approach and unsupervised learning Cross-situational learning framework Dedre Gentner and Structural Alignment Theory Developmental timepoint and native language structure Infant categorization, cognition, and early speech processing Infant eye-tracking and language development Infant speech perception, word learning and music John C. Trueswell and the Hypothesis Testing Approach Language and mathematical principles Learning causal relations in early childhood Linda B. Smith and the Dynamical Systems Approach Memory, attention, and language development Multiple examples, prediction, and explanation Noun learning from infancy through early childhood Object representations and world learning Parents language input and toddler’s language acquisition Richard N. Aslin and the Statistical Learning View Social interaction and early language development Spatial cognition and spatial language acquisition Verb learning, syntax, and semantics in early childhood

Editors and affiliations

  • Jane B. Childers
    • 1
  1. 1.Trinity UniversitySan AntonioUSA

About the editors

Dr. Jane B. Childers (Ph.D. 1998, University of Texas at Austin), is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology, and Director of the Linguistics Program, at Trinity University, San Antonio.  Her main focus of research examines children’s early verb learning, with an emphasis on how the comparison of events may be useful for deducing verb meaning.  Her research has been funded by the Spencer Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and she serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Cognition and Development and the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

Bibliographic information