There’s a saying that goes like “one is never too old to learn new things” which could also be applied to language learning. But how young do you think should one start picking up another language?
In a study published in Nature Communications and presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston, it has been shown that babies as young as seven months old can tell languages apart.
The study: Babies picking up grammar cues
The researchers presented a central problem in language learning: dual learners can’t reach the level of ease that bilingual children have when it comes to mastering a foreign tongue.
In their study, researchers Judit Gervain and Janet F. Werker studied 7-month old babies from both monolingual (English) and bilingual homes. They found out that infants use the speaker’s pitch and stress on syllables to tell languages apart. Monolingual babies can distinguish nouns, verbs, articles and prepositions while bilingual kids add to that list the duration and pitch cues of languages.
Benefits of raising bilingual babies
It has been believed by some that learning two languages at once can delay learning. But Werker shared that, “Even though it might look like a more complex task to learn two languages at once, babies do so quite easily.”
“Babies growing up bilingual… develop new strategies that monolingual babies don’t necessarily need to use,” added study co-author Judit Gervain.
Kids who are learning two languages at the same time are said to also develop their skills in creative thinking, reading, and problem-solving. Once they grow up, they would not only be more flexible in communicating with foreign peers, but also have other useful skills at their disposal. This would also open up more career paths for them. Won’t you love your kid to become a well known translator, a linguist, or a cultural scientist someday?
With this in mind, it would be good to start early in gearing your child towards the world of bilingualism, spreading the many benefits and services of translation and language learning, and letting them to be able to communicate to the world.