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Bilingual Babies at an Advantage?

By AngEngland |

Image by Francisco Navarro

We always want to do what’s best for our babies; from the moment we discover we’re pregnant (well, let’s be honest…even before!) we are faced with choices that may affect our children for better or worse.

This can be overwhelming at times; as parents it seems at times that we are bombarded with the latest
and greatest gadget or book promising to help raise the IQ, athletic potential, creativity level, etc. of our babies. From headphones for your pregnant belly to mind-expanding puzzles for preschoolers, the options seem limitless…and as parents we need to filter through these to find the ones that suit our needs.

The newest exciting (or guilt-inducing, depending upon your perspective) research relates to an infant’s speech development. Want your child to be fluent in more than one language? Better start early!

From a study reported in the Journal of Phonetics, “In summary, our results support the view that bilingual and monolingual infants may differ in the trajectory they follow in the development of speech perception—bilingual infants may remain ‘‘open’’ longer to language experience than monolingual infants, neurally committing to the languages they hear at a later point in time.”

In other words, the study shows that babies exposed to more than one language before the age of ten months have a far greater HEAR and distinguish between even subtle different sounds in language, which in turn means that they will have a greater aptitude to be fluent in those languages.

What does this mean to you as a parent? Does this make you more inclined to expose your newborn to other languages?

If so, how would you go about it? Find a Mommy-and-me language class? Hire a nanny whose first language isn’t the same as your own? Play learning a new language tapes for your baby?

Or is this unwelcome, guilt-inducing news to you? Just another thing you “should do” (or should have done) to give your baby a leg up in the world?

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About AngEngland



Ang England is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, massage therapist and founder of the DIY website, Untrained Housewife. She is a former home decor and DIY contributor to Babble.

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3 thoughts on “Bilingual Babies at an Advantage?

  1. snakecharmer says:

    I’m bilingual (French/English) and this was a no-brainer for us. I love having two languages and think it’s a wonderful skill to have and want to pass it onto my kids, so I speak to them almost exclusively in French and have since my daughter was 3 months old. My mother-in-law expressed concern that she wouldn’t be able to communicate with our kids (uhh..she’s learning BOTH languages) but aside from that people have been very supportive.

  2. Taz says:

    my child will be bilingual (english/russian) but am i alone in not wishing that hard for a genius baby? i would rather have the happiest kid in the room or the funniest or the cutest even. i’m just hoping for healthy and average. i have known enough parents who want their baby to be able to read and put constant emphasis on learning and education. i guess the attention is probably good for these babies/toddlers/children, but it seems like a lot of pressure. on baby and parent.

  3. Nony says:

    My child is bilingual and at a bilingual international school. She even picked up some Spanish while we were on vacation and she is only three. In our case, it wasn’t a choice as my husband is foreign, but we speak English at home and our home language is spoken everywhere else. It’s a great thing for her, and I am pregnant with our second who will get to be bilingual too. I think it is nice for them because they will have greater opportunities with regards to work and travel.

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