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Building intelligent systems with human level competence is the ultimate grand challenge for science and technology in general, and especially for cognitive developmental robotics. This paper proposes a new approach to the design of cognitive skills in a robot able to interact with, and communicate about, the surrounding physical world and manipulate objects in an adaptive manner. The work is based on robotic simulation experiments showing that a humanoid robot (iCub platform) is able to acquire behavioral, cognitive, and linguistic skills through individual and social learning. The robot is able to learn to handle and manipulate objects autonomously, to understand basic instructions, and to adapt its abilities to changes in internal and environmental conditions.