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Variables which contribute to language learning have been the subject of a great deal of research interest and study. Generally, research has concentrated on preschool language acquisition and, until the past decade, has supported the conclusion that language development is very nearly mature by about age six. Growing numbers of researchers, however, are acknowledging the need for research concerning language acquisition beyond the preschool years (C. Chomsky, 1969; Ruddell, 1976; Wardhaugh, 1976). Of specific interest are the developmental processes through which elementary and post-elementary children gain grammatical and lexical control of their language. Embedded in this larger concern are questions dealing with vocabular acquisition which Manzo and Sherk (1974) have identified as being singularly important, but relatively unresearched; specifically, (1) what condition or conditions precipitate the acquisition of new words? and (2) what strategy or strategies are used to incorporate new words into the speaking vocabulary? A third, and just as important concern, is whether the conditions and/ or strategies change developmentally, and if so, what relationship this change has to current theories of cognitive development.

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