Thursday, October 06, 2011

Bilingual babies discern languages

Babies living in bilingual homes get a perceptual boost by 8 months of age that may set the stage for more resilient thinking later on, scientists reported February 18.

Infants raised bilingual from birth can distinguish not only between their native tongues but between languages they've never encountered, even when they see adults speak without hearing what they say, said phychologist Janet Werker of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.  Babies in monolingual households lack these discrimination skills, Werker and her colleages have found.

Given exposure to two tongues, infants develop an ability to track closely what they hear and see to decode languages, Werker proposed.  In the visual realm, such information may include lip movements, the rhythm of the jaw opening and closing, and other facial movement.

Early perceptual strides by infants in bilingual homes may mark the beginnings of an increase ability to focus attention and think in complex ways later in life. 

Read more at www.sciencenew.org/aaas2011 : Article appearing in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC : by Bruce Bower


Posted by Katie Heaton