Unique's language teachers are often engaged in long, meaningful discussions well into the night on the whys and wherefores of language learning and language acquisition. We ponder many questions in this discussions, most recently: "How can we help our students to speak a second language as well as their first?" It is a process that might never be fully explained, but two recent language studies have shed some further light into this subject.
Language Acquisition in Children
This study on language acquisition in infants states that infants as young as 13 months old can distinguish between different languages. The children were shown nursery rhymes in French and English and were able to understand that certain words were French and certain words were English.
"People often think that babies absorb language and you don't have to teach them, and they do absorb it and they learn very passively, but they're not just learning willy-nilly," said one of the co-authors of the study, Annette Henderson. This suggests that infants have a very discriminate form of learning from an early age.
Speaking a language slowly
When you hear a parent engage in baby talk with their child and raise an eyebrow, there is no need to be so perplexed. A study from two universities in the United States looked at hundreds of these conversations and discovered that speaking a language slowly and exaggerating the vowel sounds does benefit infant learners. You can read the report in detail on this page.
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