Site Search:
 
TEFL International Supports Dave's ESL Cafe
TEFL Courses, TESOL Course, English Teaching Jobs - TEFL International
Job Discussion Forums Forum Index Job Discussion Forums
"The Internet's Meeting Place for ESL/EFL Students and Teachers from Around the World!"
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Newborns Know Their Native Tongue, Study Finds
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> General Discussion
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12021
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:29 pm    Post subject: Newborns Know Their Native Tongue, Study Finds Reply with quote

Opening up a whole new dimension to "pre-school," perhaps.

"Just hours after they're born, babies seem to be able to tell the difference between sounds in their native tongue and a foreign one, according to a new study that suggests language learning begins in utero.
"The mother has first dibs on influencing the child's brain," researcher Patricia Kuhl, of the University of Washington, said in the statement. "The vowel sounds in her speech are the loudest units and the fetus locks onto them."
Researchers examined 40 babies (an even mix of girls and boys) in Tacoma, Wash., and Stockholm, Sweden. At about 30 hours old, the infants in the study listened to vowel sounds in their native language and in foreign languages. The babies' interest in the sounds was measured by how long they sucked on a pacifier wired to a computer.
The study found that, in both countries, the infants listening to unfamiliar sounds sucked on the pacifier for longer than they did when exposed to their native tongue, suggesting they could differentiate between the two. Lead author of the study, Christine Moon, a professor of psychology at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, said the results show that fetuses can learn prenatally about the particular speech sounds of a mother's language.
"This study moves the measurable result of experience with speech sounds from six months of age to before birth," Moon said.
Previous studies have indicated that babies begin to develop sound-recognition skills while still in the womb. For example, in a 2011 study detailed in the journal PLoS ONE, a group of women were asked to play a brief recording of a descending piano melody in the last three weeks of their pregnancy. When the babies heard the song again a month after birth, researchers found that the infants' hearts slowed significantly compared with when they heard an unfamiliar song. In other experiments described in the journal Current Biology in 2009, scientists recorded and analyzed the cries of 60 healthy newborns when they were 3 days to 5 days old 30 born into French-speaking families, 30 into German-speaking ones. Their analysis revealed clear differences in the melodies of their cries based on their native tongue.
The new research, which will be detailed in an upcoming issue of the journal Acta Paediatrica, could shed light on previously unknown ways that newborns soak up information.
"We want to know what magic they put to work in early childhood that adults cannot," Kuhl said. "We can't waste that early curiosity."

http://news.yahoo.com/newborns-know-native-tongue-study-finds-174725104.html

Regards,
John
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 8814
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

interesting, just read about this for my childbirthing class.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 881
Location: China

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I heard about these studies when they came out. They really prove the importance of prosody in language acquisition. I still remember entering the home of a Korean family I tutored and hearing even the 3 year-old happily singing along to the songs on the video I'd left.

What if a set of triplets in their first 2 years were babysat separately. One, a control baby, by an L1 babysitter only using the mother tongue; the other two, by L2 babysitters but one of them compassionate and seemingly best friends with the mother while the other cold and unfriendly. Provided the L2 babysitters exposed their infants to roughly the same language, my guess would be that, their ability to pick up L2 later on would vary considerably.

Maybe it's on account of where I am (China), but I get the sense that VYL (Very Young Learner) ELT is still very much in it's infancy, pardon the pun. It's far more influenced by conventional ELT practices and expectations and than by research into early childhood education or developmental psychology. When I asked the director of Scholastic in Shanghai last year about the curriculum's music component, I was told, "We don't do any singing here."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
VietCanada



Joined: 30 Nov 2010
Posts: 259

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There should be a sticky for research in education and related neurology studies for example. I can't see a board dedicated to teaching not having such info available. Credibility.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 881
Location: China

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

VietCanada wrote:
There should be a sticky for research in education and related neurology studies for example. I can't see a board dedicated to teaching not having such info available. Credibility.


There's not even so much as a sticky dedicated to teaching VYLs or YLs. As the ELT industry suggests, it's seen phenomenal growth over the past decade. I tried polling Primary Education forum members to see how many were ESL vs EFL but 170+ views later and still no one's voted--guess I should've defined the terms. Laughing

Should we start a poll here instead or has there been one recently?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
memae



Joined: 24 Apr 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was brought up in a course on bilingualism i did when i was studying linguistics. i'm on the fence about it. The study we looked at involved infants at 2 days old, and they had the same sort of findings about the infants reacting to the new language. i'm not convinced that much language heard in the womb is comprehensible enough (there'd be so much distortion) to be recognisable/familiar to a baby once it has been born. Except perhaps intonation. I had a quick scan for any peer-reviewed articles on prenatal language learning/development, and there wasn't much but a lot of what was there seemed to come from music therapy and music psychology journals.

The study my class looked at had infants distinguishing between French and English, and i remember a key point being that it wasn't so much the phonemes that they were reacting to but the intonation. i can't remember if they tested that by comparing with a third language or if they isolated phonemes or hummed sentences or what, though.

So, i'm not particularly sure that a baby in the womb can distinguish between music and language or any other sort of rhythm/melody. I wonder if the infants in the study would have been able to distinguish between French and English spoken with French intonation.

Basically my thoughts are that melody and rhythm are something a baby can pick up on in the womb and perhaps recognise once born, but that they quickly become familiar with their mother's language in the first few hours of their life (and that this is possibly assisted by the familiarity of the intonation).

i know from another course (on SLA) that <1 week old Japanese newborns can still differentiate between English 'r' and 'l' even though their parents cannot. i haven't seen any studies that look at this with vowels, but those are louder sounds and could have different results (but then the role of vowels in intonation could also be what leads to the change in result).

It's interesting. i hope there's some more research and ideas on it for me to read up on by the time i get around to going back to school.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
GambateBingBangBOOM



Joined: 04 Nov 2003
Posts: 1886
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

memae wrote:
This was brought up in a course on bilingualism i did when i was studying linguistics. i'm on the fence about it. The study we looked at involved infants at 2 days old, and they had the same sort of findings about the infants reacting to the new language. i'm not convinced that much language heard in the womb is comprehensible enough (there'd be so much distortion) to be recognisable/familiar to a baby once it has been born. Except perhaps intonation. I had a quick scan for any peer-reviewed articles on prenatal language learning/development, and there wasn't much but a lot of what was there seemed to come from music therapy and music psychology journals.

The study my class looked at had infants distinguishing between French and English, and i remember a key point being that it wasn't so much the phonemes that they were reacting to but the intonation. i can't remember if they tested that by comparing with a third language or if they isolated phonemes or hummed sentences or what, though.

So, i'm not particularly sure that a baby in the womb can distinguish between music and language or any other sort of rhythm/melody. I wonder if the infants in the study would have been able to distinguish between French and English spoken with French intonation.

Basically my thoughts are that melody and rhythm are something a baby can pick up on in the womb and perhaps recognise once born, but that they quickly become familiar with their mother's language in the first few hours of their life (and that this is possibly assisted by the familiarity of the intonation).

i know from another course (on SLA) that <1 week old Japanese newborns can still differentiate between English 'r' and 'l' even though their parents cannot. i haven't seen any studies that look at this with vowels, but those are louder sounds and could have different results (but then the role of vowels in intonation could also be what leads to the change in result).

It's interesting. i hope there's some more research and ideas on it for me to read up on by the time i get around to going back to school.


Are you sure you don't mean prosody, and not intonation alone?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 881
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

memae wrote:
i'm not convinced that much language heard in the womb is comprehensible enough (there'd be so much distortion) to be recognisable/familiar to a baby once it has been born.

... they quickly become familiar with their mother's language in the first few hours of their life (and that this is possibly assisted by the familiarity of the intonation).


My guess is that a baby might already be able to recognize it's mother at birth based on speech patterns (prosody) alone, even if it sounds different outside the womb. This is the 2nd time I've heard that claim of language being comprehensible pre-natally--emotion, yes, but specific langauge?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9130
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, living in a part of the world where most people speak multiple languages............how about my friend who speaks English at work, Bulgarian with friends, and Dutch when out and about in the town? Her small children speak all of the above, but which did THEY 'recognize at birth???'
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
thatsforsure



Joined: 11 Sep 2012
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like a load of crap to me. Ability to recognize a language can be determined in newborns by "how long they sucked on a pacifier wired to a computer"?

Quote:
The study found that, in both countries, the infants listening to unfamiliar sounds sucked on the pacifier for longer than they did when exposed to their native tongue, suggesting they could differentiate between the two.
I'm not going to believe anything until I also see the results of the tea-leaf reading.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 796

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
OK, living in a part of the world where most people speak multiple languages............how about my friend who speaks English at work, Bulgarian with friends, and Dutch when out and about in the town? Her small children speak all of the above, but which did THEY 'recognize at birth???'


From what I recall from other papers and without having read this specific paper recently, they would recognize any all languages their mother speaks regularly during pregnancy, and can distinguish between those languages when the mother switches from one to another.

thatsforsure wrote:
Looks like a load of crap to me. Ability to recognize a language can be determined in newborns by "how long they sucked on a pacifier wired to a computer"?


It's an absolutely standard research method with newborns. It's been used for decades in thousands of experiments on a huge number of topics. It's extremely robust.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9130
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
From what I recall from other papers and without having read this specific paper recently, they would recognize any all languages their mother speaks regularly during pregnancy, and can distinguish between those languages when the mother switches from one to another.



That seems reasonable, though it makes identifying a 'mother language' or L1 difficult. Perhaps forms requiring this information will need to be altered in future, as globalization increases the numbers of children growing up in mulitilingual contexts.

By the way, when asked, the children I mention here say their 'favourite' language is their father's Norwegian, which they speak only with him and his family:-)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
memae



Joined: 24 Apr 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Generally, when children learn 2+ languages from birth, even though one will generally show dominance over the other (but not always), they're both/all considered an L1. The kids tend to make certain errors in one language at a different age to the other one, but this often is pretty close in age to children who only speak that language (although, they seem to be a little out-of-step compared to their monolingual counterparts). i suppose that even though the development of 2 L1s differs from one L1 in some ways, and that one of the 2 languages is often preferred by the child (but this is usually social rather than a matter of competency), they do generally go through the same stages of L1 acquisition as monolingual L1ers (just some stages are at different ages and maybe take a little longer or a little less time), and by the time they have reached adult language they have a native speaker fluency (including tacit knowledge and the standard accent) so both languages are considered L1s.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 881
Location: China

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My parents were immigrants but my siblings and I adopted their L2 as our L1. Only later did their L1 become my sister's L2.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
wangdaning



Joined: 22 Jan 2008
Posts: 1830

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thatsforsure wrote:
Looks like a load of crap to me. Ability to recognize a language can be determined in newborns by "how long they sucked on a pacifier wired to a computer"?

Quote:
The study found that, in both countries, the infants listening to unfamiliar sounds sucked on the pacifier for longer than they did when exposed to their native tongue, suggesting they could differentiate between the two.
I'm not going to believe anything until I also see the results of the tea-leaf reading.


With you on this. I don't care if they have done this since the sun was created, you simply cannot tell what language a baby has. \ full stop\
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> General Discussion All times are GMT
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page is maintained by the one and only Dave Sperling.
Contact Dave's ESL Cafe
Copyright © 2011 Dave Sperling. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group

Road2Spain - TEFL and Spanish with one year student visa
EBC