Teaching Your Child Second Language Starts In the Womb

Feb 18, 2010
Children of mothers, who spoke several languages during pregnancy, were better prepared to learn more than one language, a new study suggests.

Krista Byers-Heinlein, Janet F. Werker from the University of British Columbia along with Tracey Burns of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in France studied newborns of mothers, who spoke only English language and those, who spoke English and Tagalog, a language spoken in the Philippines, during pregnancy. The scientists analyzed language preferences of the babies, using the so-called "high-amplitude sucking-preference procedure", which means that the infants sucking reflex becomes intense when they are interested in something. During the study, the infants were listening to 10 minutes of speech that changed from English to Tagalog every minute.

The findings of the study revealed that infants of mothers, who spoke only one language, showed increased interest when they heard English language, while babies of bilingual mothers preferred both English and Tagalog language. Infants of the mothers, who spoke two languages, were also able to differentiate between two languages better, which prevents further language confusion.

Scientists say that babies' interest in several languages will improve further learning of several languages and suggest that it might actually be useful to start teaching your child languages when they are still in the womb.