Language Lessons From Babies

The New York Times:

In today’s 18 and Under column, Dr. Perri Klass writes about new science of bilingualism and how scientists are teasing out the earliest differences between brains exposed to one language and brains exposed to two.

The learning of language — and the effects on the brain of the language we hear — may begin even earlier than 6 months of age.

Janet Werker, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, studies how babies perceive language and how that shapes their learning. Even in the womb, she said, babies are exposed to the rhythms and sounds of language, and newborns have been shown to prefer languages rhythmically similar to the one they’ve heard during fetal development.

In one recent study, Dr. Werker and her collaborators showed that babies born to bilingual mothers not only prefer both of those languages over others — but are also able to register that the two languages are different.

Read the whole story: The New York Times

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