Infants Language Abilities Soar High Above Adults

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As Professor Melissa Koenig discussed the language development of infants and children is astonishing, due to the abilities that they possess without any preexisting knowledge or experience of how language works at a very young age. If when we were young had those same abilities to recognize and detect all speech sounds, would we have chosen to learn a second language or third language than? My response to that would be of course, I would have wanted to learn another language than my native language than, because I already had the tools to detect speech sounds from every language. If I have the tools that adults didn't with language when I was an infant, I would have wanted to capitalize on that, since I now know how hard it is to detect language sounds from a language different than my own as an adult. Although this is very unlikely for infants to learn a second or third language for besides there native language due to their environment they are exposed to. I believe that it mainly depends on what their parents or caretakers expose them to while they are infants. Infants could easily learn the basics to multiple languages if they are exposed to learning situations that keep on repeating the words and meanings from a different language or two. Than the words would need to be maintained by continuous use by both parent and infant, in an infant directed social interaction. I only think that this is possible if the parents begin the process of teaching their infant languages at 4 to 6 months of age, even if they cannot talk yet because eventually they will imitate or mimic and we know by 12 months of age they start to lose touch with language sounds that they do not hear from their parents or the outside environment. If you were to have kids would you start to incorporate another language than yours, into your infants language capabilities before they were gone?


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In response to your question, yes, I would incorporate more than one language into my child's language capabilities if I were to have children. This I say because I am already bilingual, thus, it would be much easier for me to talk to them in both languages. For a person who knows fluently only one language, I'm sure they would definitely choose to incorporate more than one language into their child's language capabilities, but it might be very difficult for them to do so.

I'm currently learning German, so I will hopefully be bilingual one day, but I agree only knowing one language hinders you ability to have your child exposed to multiple languages. I'll just have to marry a foreign man :) (you have to love those accents).

I was also thinking of getting friends from multiple different languages and telling them they could only speak their respective language to my baby. I read somewhere that while this method will delay their onset of speech a bit, they will most likely learn each language and then have an easier time of picking up new languages later in life. I think it's worth it.

Its hard to expose your child to many different languages in today's world simply because people usually live in a uniform community, whether that be all one language or all one culture. However, the good side is that many people are bilingual in America due to the fact that they have immigrant backgrounds and such.

Can we say that knowing multiple languages (or at least being exposed to them) will increase our overall learning ability?

I've always said that if I ever have kids that I would want to raise them bilingually, possibly even trilingually. I learned spanish throughout high school and am still continuing to learn it. The years that I have spent learning the language could have been erased had I simply been brought up learning the language alongside english. I am about to start learning french and once again, this could have been avoided had I just learned it growing up as I learned english. I think that if infants have the capacity to learn more than one language, and learn it easily, we might as well capitalize off of it and make them into a more well rounded person.

The observation that children have astonishing powers to learn their first language/s is clearly correct. And there is no doubt that multiple languages can be learned concurrently in the first few years. There is plenty of evidence for that.

What is not recognised though is that as adults we have access to very similar astonishing powers. The reason why for most people these powers do not manifest is the methods that are used to teach languages...and from there, to learn languages.

Just try drinking some soup with a fork and see how successful you will be. If for some reason everyone else is using forks, soon the belief will be formed that humans are not good soup drinkers!

Of course the problem lies with the tool, not to mention the issue that as adults we can become wedded to our beliefs and so not even entertain the possibility that we could become good soup drinkers if we changed our tool!

There are of course a number of other differences that distinguish us from infants, however we should not allow these differences to obscure the similarities!

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This page contains a single entry by bouch113 published on March 25, 2012 1:00 PM.

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