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Journal Article

Individual differences in first language acquisition


Kidd,  Evan
Language Development Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Australian National University;
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language;
Learning through Processing, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Kidd, E., & Donnelly, S. (2020). Individual differences in first language acquisition. Annual Review of Linguistics, 6, 319-340. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011619-030326.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-CA41-F
Humans vary in almost every dimension imaginable, and language is no
exception. In this article, we review the past research that has focused on
individual differences (IDs) in first language acquisition. We first consider
how different theoretical traditions in language acquisition treat IDs, and
we argue that a focus on IDs is important given its potential to reveal the
developmental dynamics and architectural constraints of the linguistic system.
We then review IDs research that has examined variation in children’s
linguistic input, early speech perception, and vocabulary and grammatical
development. In each case, we observe systematic and meaningful variation,
such that variation in one domain (e.g., early auditory and speech
processing) has meaningful developmental consequences for development
in higher-order domains (e.g., vocabulary). The research suggests a high
degree of integration across the linguistic system, in which development
across multiple linguistic domains is tightly coupled.