Babies can recognize sound while they are in the uterus
Every adult who tries to learn a foreign language struggles a lot. Even if we are learning a second language for all our lives, from the first school days, most of us can not adopt it as native. Early childhood is the best time to learn, but babies, only they have the ability to learn more languages at the same time and know each as their native.
All words in the world consist of a total of 800 sounds. Each known language uses about 40 phonemes, these sounds, which determine that particular language. Babies can distinguish all 800. This is actually a time when we have the power of learning and recognizing any of these sounds, the question is on what we will be focused in the future.
The first sounds that the baby recognizes are the speech of the mother, as long as they are in the belly. Science proves that while in the womb, a baby can make a difference between native and foreign language. Perhaps baby doesn’t understand the meaning but follows the sounds.
In a further development, until the first year of life, the baby will learn those sounds depending on whether it grows in a monolingual or bilingual family. From the 6th to the 12th month, they pay attention to sounds that are heard continuously, babies become “specialized” for the origin language. In bilingual homes, this happens duplicated – in parallel and equally.
The difference between a monolingual and bilingual environment
Many parents of children who grow under the influence of two different cultures, therefore languages, have afraid that their children will fall about other children who learn only one by birth. They fear their babies will late, less likely to develop linguistic abilities and have a strong vocabulary.
Researching the baby’s brain tells us that this is not true. These studies use magnetoencephalography, a unique method of recording brain activity in newborns. When scientists watched the 11-month-old baby’s brain growth in a monolingual environment, they noticed that her brain record the sounds of the native language, and processed it while the other one is recognized as foreign and unknown.
On the other hand, the baby of the same age from the bilingual family shows same brain activity in the case of both languages, which are in baby’s environment from birth. This child is “specialized” for the phonemes of both languages and his mind processes both equally.
Both babies in development of 11 months, which are shortly before the development of speech, know the native language – one that is common to them, alike. If the first baby grew in a different environment, would have developed the same abilities as the other. The difference is in external factors.
Is it right to have a bilingual child?
Parents are quite worried about whether the child is burdened with the various language environments they come from. Their children often understand everything for a long time, but begin to speak later. Also, bilingual babies and toddlers “borrow” words from one language and mix it with other. Parents can see this as if the child is confused. But it’s not. A bilingual baby develops special “switch” skills that remain forever and can make a lot of use later in life. This baby knows which words to use while talking with different grandparents. They understand much more than you think.
People who have grown up in these conditions develop the possibility of “switching” and can simultaneously perform multiple actions and solve problems more efficiently, and, of course, many times it is easier for them to learn a new, third language than children from a monolingual environment.
How rich and delightful their vocabulary will be, depends on the quality of growing up, working with children and dedicated time. It is necessary to nurture both languages, native and try to learn at least one new. Words are a window into the world and an incredible fortune for all of us.