• Best Age to Expose Your Baby to Different Languages? Think Months

    A new study shows that babies retain language sounds as early as three months.
    by Rachel Perez .
  • Best Age to Expose Your Baby to Different Languages? Think Months
    IMAGE Jacob Martin/Flickr Creative Commons
  • It has been instilled in us by our parents and our education system that in order for us to be competitive in the global job arena we needed to learn how to speak and understand English. It still holds true today. But more than a competitive edge, knowing more than one language makes our kids smarter and more decisive.   

    Take, for example, Scarlet Snow Belo. She is only 2 years old, but she's been learning Filipino, English, and Chinese. Her Instagram chronicles how her parents, Hayden Kho and Vicki Belo (and her yayas), teach her, mostly by talking to her and letting her hear them speak in Filipino, English, and Chinese. 

    Previous research has established that babies at 6 months could already distinguish a broader range of sounds than adults. A new small study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that babies younger than 6 months retain unique language sounds for years even if they don't hear it as often growing up. They don't completely forget about these sounds.

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    The researchers studied the development of Dutch-speaking individuals who who had been adopted as babies from South Korea. They found that Dutch speakers who heard the Korean language as babies were better at learning sounds unique to the Korean language, and they learned the sounds after just a little over a week and a half. 

    It proves that even as young babies infants can detect abstract patterns in the language they hear around them. "At three to six months, there is abstract phonological knowledge," study researchers Jiyoun Choi of Hanyang University in Seoul and Anne Cutler of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands told Live Science

    And it also didn't matter whether the adults who participated in the study left their land of birth earlier than six months after birth or as toddlers. They were significantly better at distinguishing the sounds, compared with those who'd had no exposure to the Korean language. It means your baby can pick up language sounds just by hearing you speak it. 

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    If you think exposing babies to two different languages could lead to speech delay, language confusion, or brain development, nothing is further from the truth. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stresses bilingual kids will become proficient in the languages they are taught young by the time they're 5 years old. And many studies show that bilingualism actually improves babies' ability to control thoughts or cognitive control. In school, they score better in math, reading and vocabulary. It also known to improve memory and makes kids good multitaskers.

    Marian Sigma, a neuroscientist and author of The Secret Life of the Mind: How Your Brain Thinks, Feels, and Decides, told Business Insider that cognitive control is one of the most important functions in the brain. "Cognitive control improves cognition in a way that impacts many, many things in life," such as doing good at school and having better social skills. 

    Now why wouldn't you want that for you child?  

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