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Baby language parents’ guide delights

How babies learn to talk and how parents and grandparents can assist this process is the fascinating basis for Talking Baby: Helping your child discover language, by child language specialists Margaret Maclagan and Anne Buckley.

Due to popular demand, the book has been reprinted by Canterbury University Press and is available from 11 November.

Drawing on the authors’ combined 40 years of experience, Talking Baby includes practical suggestions and real-life examples, as well as intriguing scientific facts to help parents learn how to support their children’s natural language development.

Dr Margaret Maclagan spent many years at the College of Education, which later joined the University of Canterbury (UC) and remains a UC Adjunct Professor. During her career she trained many of Aotearoa’s speech-language therapists; for many years UC offered Aotearoa’s only tertiary qualification in this subject.

Anne Buckley is also a former speech-language therapist and lecturer at UC, and has subsequently worked as a medical writer and editor for more than a decade.

The book is for “parents, grandparents and anyone who is interested in the way that language develops and who wants some suggestions to help babies and pre-school children with their language learning”, Dr Maclagan says.

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“We wrote Talking Baby because we continue to be fascinated by the complexity of language and the relative ease with which most children develop it when they have opportunities to interact with people. It seemed to us that many people were unaware of the normal course of language development. We wanted to share our delight in language with them in the hope that this would increase their own enjoyment of interacting with the young children in their lives.”

Language acquisition relies on interpersonal interaction, Buckley says.

“With all the current technology – smart phones, iPads – it has become easier to stay in digital contact with friends but, at the same time, to have less face-to-face interaction with your young child. Talking Baby seeks to reinforce the importance of one-on-one interactions with young children.

“The book is not a programme that must be followed or an attempt to ‘hothouse’ children. However we do know that children with a solid language base are ready for school learning and do better when they get to school.”

Academics have praised Talking Baby as accessible and essential reading for everyone who works with children.

“This delightful book will help parents to understand and nurture their child’s natural language development,” says Jeremy Hornibrook, otolaryngologist and UC Adjunct Professor of Communication Disorders.

Talking Baby was first published in Australia by Finch in 2016. It focuses on normal language and is not intended to create ‘super talkers’, but rather to underscore the incredible way that normal children learn normal language.

Talking Baby: Helping your child discover language, by Margaret Maclagan and Anne Buckley. Published by Canterbury University Press. ISBN: 978-1-98-850316-5

Author biographical details

Dr Margaret Maclagan (PhD, Lond) has been a lecturer in child language development and language analysis for more than three decades. She taught speech-language therapists at the University of Canterbury, is an author and editor of academic books, and now writes for a general audience. She is a mother and grandmother.

Anne Buckley (MSc, Human Communication, Lond) is a former speech-language therapist and lecturer at the University of Canterbury. She has worked in medical publishing for more than a decade as a medical writer and editor, writing for both health professionals and consumers. Anne has a son.


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