Language Play, Language Learning

Language Play, Language Learning

Format: Paperback
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Winner of the Kenneth W Mildenberger Prize
Shortlisted for the Ben Warren Prize

This book has two related purposes. The first is to demonstrate the extent and importance of language play in human life; the second is to draw out the implications for applied linguistics and language teaching. Language play should not be thought of as a trivial or peripheral activity, but as central to human thought and culture, to learning, creativity, and intellectual enquiry. It fulfils a major function of language, underpinning the human capacity to adapt: as individuals, as societies, and as a species.

  • ISBN: 978-0-19-442153-9


The series attracts single or co-authored volumes from authors researching at the cutting edge of this dynamic field of interdisciplinary enquiry. The titles range from books that make such developments accessible to the non-specialist reader to those which explore in depth their relevance for the way language is to be conceived as a subject, and how courses and classroom activities are to be designed. As such, these books not only extend the field of applied linguistics itself and lend an additional significance to its enquiries, but also provide an indispensable professional foundation for language pedagogy and its practice.

The scope of the series includes:
  • second language acquisition
  • bilingualism and multi/plurilingualism
  • language pedagogy and teacher education
  • testing and assessment
  • language planning and policy
  • language internationalization
  • technology-mediated communication
  • discourse-, conversation-, and contrastive-analysis
  • pragmatics
  • stylistics
  • lexicography
  • translation


Introduction: Not only for children

PART ONE: The interlocking levels

1 The forms of language play: rhythm and repetition in children's verse

2 The meanings of language play: imaginary worlds

3 The uses of language play: competition and collaboration

PART TWO: Theories and explanations

4 The nature of play: evolutionary and cultural perspectives

5 The play of nature: randomness and creativity

PART THREE: Language learning

6 Current orthodoxies in language teaching

7 Future prospects for language teaching



  • 'This far-ranging study demonstrates immense erudition in its sweep of scientific, cultural, and pedagogical theory, and points the way to linking opposing notions of language acquisition. Cook's work moves the profession away from a language learning centred on myopically practical, quotidian tasks and provides us with the much needed bridge between the disciplines of the traditional liberal arts and those of the behavioral sciences - a bridge that in turn facilitates a greater understanding of the second language acquisition process.'
    - Kenneth W Mildenberger Award Committee