Experimental Methods to Study Child Language

Titia Benders*, Nan Xu Rattanasone, Rosalind Thornton, Iris Mulders, Loes Koring

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Researchers interested in child language development face the challenge of designing experimental language studies that are simultaneously feasible for young children and provide valid insights into children’s developing linguistic representations and processing. This chapter lays out how these challenges can be overcome, focussing on: (1) production studies into child phonology and phonetics and (2) comprehension studies into children’s developing syntax and semantics. Per domain, a selection of child-friendly paradigms is introduced, and the choice between paradigms is considered in terms of suitability for both the research question and the age group under study. Furthermore, the design of stimuli and procedures for children’s non-adult-like linguistic abilities is discussed. Researchers interested in children’s acquisition of other linguistic domains are encouraged to extrapolate the considerations laid out in this chapter to design feasible and valid experiments for any aspect of child language.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Experimental Linguistics
EditorsSandrine Zufferey, Pascal Gygax
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781003392972
ISBN (Print)9781032492872
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2023


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