Danielle Matthews, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
The University of Sheffield
Dr. Danielle Matthews is a Reader in Cognitive Development at the University of Sheffield. Her research focuses on how children learn to talk and how interaction with others promotes development. She is currently writing a book on Pragmatic Development: How children learn to use language for social communication.
Pragmatic Development: How Children Learn to Use Language for Social Communication
Pragmatics is the domain of language that relates linguistic forms to the people using them. The development of pragmatics starts from birth with caregiver-infant exchanges and builds right up to understanding functionally complex forms of language including sarcasm. This brief overview will consider the pragmatic developments that come with the discovery of pre-linguistic communication, words, sentences, and supra-sentential structures as well as different types of non-literal language. The focus will be on the developmental trajectory of typically hearing children learning a spoken language, although some signposts to research with deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children learning spoken and/or signed languages will be given along the way. As we will come to see, pragmatic development depends critically on accessing interaction with others in order for children to become effective communicators who can build on their confidence at each stage in order to reach the next.
- About the main pragmatic developments children typically make between birth and 10 years of age.
- How the language learning environment and experience of interaction affects development.
- Consider pragmatic development a case of skill learning, with several sources of individual differences.