Laying the foundations for multilingual acquisition: An international overview of speech acquisition

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter


Speech acquisition is a significant component of language acquisition, since successful speech acquisition results in intelligible communication. Depending on the language spoken, children's speech acquisition can involve the acquisition of consonants, vowels, consonant clusters, syllable structures, tones and prosody (e.g. intonation, stress). Understanding multilingual speech acquisition is important for linguists, phoneticians, teachers, speech-language pathologists, parents and their children who live in a multilingual and multicultural world. Throughout the world there have been numerous studies that have considered speech acquisition in monolingual contexts. However, few studies have specifically examined speech acquisition in multilingual contexts. This chapter provides an overview of over 250 studies that document speech acquisition in nine dialects of English and 23 languages other than English. The majority of these studies specifically indicate that only monolingual speakers were included in their research. The limited information available regarding speech acquisition in multilingual contexts is highlighted (e.g. Cantonese-English, Welsh-English). Recommendations for examining speech acquisition in multilingual contexts are provided.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMultilingual norms
Place of PublicationFrankfurt
PublisherPeter Lang Publishing
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9783631596371
Publication statusPublished - 2010


Cite this

McLeod, S. (2010). Laying the foundations for multilingual acquisition: An international overview of speech acquisition. In Multilingual norms (3 ed., pp. 53-71). Peter Lang Publishing.