Patricia Kuhl: The Linguistic Genius of Babies

Posted by Ryan on March 9, 2011 in Learning |

Here’s an extremely interesting TED talk I just watched concerning learning languages.

It turns out that babies take statistics on the languages they hear in order to figure out what sounds are important and thereby learn those language. What’s even more striking is that audio and video feeds had no effect – the babies needed to hear it from a human being!

I found it very interesting when they subjected American babies to 12 sessions of Mandarin and then found that those babies who had 2 months of Mandarin understood Chinese just as well as Taiwanese babies who had had Mandarin for 12 months. However, I would pose the question: did the American babies’ English comprehension level go up, go down, or stay the same? Since their Mandarin comprehension level obviously went up, did that have any wayward effect on their English comprehension level over that 2 month period? What happens when both parents speak different languages to the child?

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