Imitation and language development: issues and clinical implications

J Speech Hear Disord. 1975 Aug;40(3):339-50. doi: 10.1044/jshd.4003.339.


The relationship between imitation and language learning is of both theoretical and clinical interest. While current psycholinguistic accounts give imitation only a limited role in language learning, learning theorists and others continue to refer to imitation as a major factor in the child's acquisition of language. Clinicians deal with imitation in modeling procedures as well as in counseling parents about how to promote children's language development. A review of theory and research on the nature and development of imitation reveals wide variation in terminology, definitions, and explanations. The clinical use of imitation procedures have greater significance for the acquisition of communication skills than for the development of linguistic structure.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior*
  • Infant
  • Language Development*
  • Language Disorders / therapy
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Verbal Behavior