Presented with the latest thinking and research on how children acquire their first language, the reader is taken from a standing start to the point where they can engage with key debates and current research in the field of child language. No background knowledge of linguistic theory is assumed and all specialist terms are introduced in clear, non-technical language. A theme running through the book is the nature-nurture debate, rekindled in the modern era by Noam Chomsky, with his belief that the child is born with a rich knowledge of language. This book is rare in its balanced presentation of evidence from both sides of the nature-nurture divide. The reader is encouraged to adopt a critical stance throughout and weigh up the evidence for themselves. Key features for the student include: boxes and exercises to foster an understanding of key concepts in language and linguistics; a glossary of key terms; suggestions for further reading; a list of useful websites at the end of each chapter; discussion points for use in class; and separate author and subject indexes.