Some people might call it baby babble, but others are calling it a head start online. There’s a new study that suggests children can actually learn two foreign languages before their first birthday. In other words, it’s never too early to make sure your child is a step ahead, even though they haven’t learned to construct a proper sentence yet.
According to Local 6 News, a team of researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning found that by the time babies are 10 months old, they can actually process and recognize words in two languages. As a matter of fact, the children that participated in the study understood or at least recognized words that were spoken to them in both Spanish and English.
A couple that participated in the study, Daniel Perez and Jenny Ring- Perez, said that they started talking to their daughters Camilla and Alessandra at birth. Mom Jenny says that both she and her husband were really committed to teaching their girls Spanish from the get-go so they can have a better understanding of where their parents are from and their culture, too.
In addition to speaking Spanish at home, the Perez family also had Spanish-speaking teachers and got to spend time with Daniel’s family during a stay in Costa Rica. “What I noticed is that the phonetics is pretty impressive to see, when they started speaking Spanish, how they were able to do all the sounds,” Daniel said.
The study was conducted by Dr. Naja Ferjan Ramirez, a researcher with the Institute for Learning. She measured brain waves from children that were about 11-months-old. She founds that many kids were already learning the language or the languages they were learning at home, even though some of the babies were yet to say their first words.
“If we give babies an opportunity to experience a second language during infancy and early childhood, they will be able to, and should be able to develop native-like fluency,” Ramirez said.
During the study, bilingual babies showed strong responses to both languages during infancy. Of course, teaching a child a different language very early in their life comes with many different advantages. Research has shown that speaking two different languages can give you a better attention span. What’s more, bilingual children and adults are better at multi-tasking than people who speak just one language. This is because people who speak two or more languages are used to switching from one language to another.