Foreign Language Exercises Babies’ Brains

Habla Espanol? How about French or Tagalog?

If you or your spouse speak a foreign language, go ahead and teach it to your baby. It’s good for their brain, according to a study published online in the Journal of Phonetics.

Learning more than one language at home helps keep a baby’s brain more flexible to different languages, according to researchers from the University of Washington. Their brains remain flexible until they are 10 to 12 months old. Babies in homes where only one language is spoken lose their brain flexibility at 6 to 9 months of age.

“The bilingual brain is fascinating because it reflects humans’ abilities for flexible thinking – bilingual babies learn that objects and events in the world have two names, and flexibly switch between these labels, giving the brain lots of good exercise,” said study co-author Patricia Kuhl, in a news release from the University of Washington. Kuhl is co-director of the university’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.

Researchers also said children learn a second language best through social interactions and hearing the language every day.

“Learning a second language is like learning a sport,” said Adrian Garcia-Sierra, lead author of the study, who is also raising his two children as bilingual. “The more you play, the better you get.”

Source: University of Washington

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