Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How Babies Learn To Talk?

3:57 PM by Lilian ·
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My daughter, Alisha, is already 1 year and 6 months old and she only utter a word "ad", "mi","hi", and the rest of the words she said are her own language. I am a bit worried cause Nanay, my mother, said my niece are already talking few straight words. My niece, Bella is 1 month older than Alisha.

They said that if parents want their infant to grow up speaking like an adult they should talk to them like they are adults. So that's what me and my husband are doing. But new research from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Wisconsin confirms that talking to babies in baby talk, as mothers have been doing for centuries, is pretty effective and helps them learn language faster. It is clear that infants like listening to baby talk better than adult speech. So i better change my style.

He said further that babies in the study were able to identify specific words from nonsense sentences more quickly when the sentences were delivered in baby talk than when they were delivered in the more monotone cadence characteristic of adult speech.

Lead researcher Erik D. Thiessen, PhD, of Carnegie Mellon University says the infants learned words about 25% faster when exposed to baby talk.

What is baby talk?

Known in language development circles as infant-directed speech, baby talk is characterized by short, simple sentences delivered in a high-pitched, sing-song voice. Vowels are also dragged out, and each word of a sentence tends to be clearly spoken.

Thiessen says baby talk and the exaggerated body language that goes along with it tends to grab an infant's attention. And the simple sentence structure and slow word delivery make it easier for infants to learn.

"It isn't that babies can't learn from adult-directed speech," he tells WebMD. "They will figure it out eventually no matter how they are talked to. They just tend to learn a little faster with infant-directed speech."

The findings may also help explain why adults have so much trouble learning a second language, even though they are able to speak their own language effortlessly, Thiessen says. Adults tend to learn individual words of a new language easily. But they often have trouble understanding the language when it is spoken by native speakers because words tend to run together and no longer make sense.

"There may be something about the simplified way that people talk to infants that makes it easier to break into a new language and figure out what is going on," he says.

Talk Silly to Baby

The new research should help calm the fears of parents who have heard that baby talk could slow their child's verbal learning, says researcher Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, PhD. Michnick Golinkoff directs the Infant Language Project at the University of Delaware and is co-author of the books How Babies Talk and Einstein Never Used Flash Cards.

"We know that infant-directed speech really helps babies break up the speech stream to find the individual words," she tells WebMD.

"Parents should feel comfortable talking silly to their babies. Babies love it and it helps them learn."

Another findings:

"According to research conducted by Janellen Huttenlocher, the actual size of a toddler's vocabularly is strongly correlated with how much her mother talks to her. Dr. Huttenlocher found at twenty months old, the children of chatty mothers averaged 131 more words than the children of mothers who didn't speak much. At two years of age, the gap more than doubled to 295 words.

"Other researchers have found that talking to children a lot not only affects their vocabularly, but also their intelligence. Betty Hart, PhD, and Todd R. Risley, PhD, observed how parents interacted with their one- and two-year-old children. At age three, the ones who scored the highest on intelligence quotient (IQ) and language tests were the ones who had heard the greatest number of words at one and two.

"Even though your baby may be surrounded by conversation from birth on, it is important that you talk directly to her before she can talk back to you. You don't need to ask her a lot of questions or require her to respond. Your purpose is to build her understanding of language to help enhance her expression of language."

"A good enough reasons to start having silly conversations to my daughter!"

What about you? What are your ways in helping your children talk faster? Do you mind to share?


Anonymous said...
January 30, 2009 at 5:37 PM

I have a nephew who is 2 years old now and he still can't utter a straight words.. Always the last syllable.. lol

By the way, I am giving you an award again te.. Click HERE for more details..

Anonymous said...
March 22, 2009 at 4:54 PM

I have lots of kids in the family, some of them toke longer time to talk, but most of them because they raised all together in a nice group which help them to talk fast, communicating with kids are very important!

I think kids always capture the words and save them in their memories, they know lots more than they can say!

very nice post, I like it because it's from a real person, have a great day!

Mary Lou B. Johnson said...
August 23, 2009 at 11:07 AM

Several great points are made in this article. It's important for readers to realize what "good" "baby talk" is--it is infant-directed speech. It is silly in content and dramatically appealing in delivery. Babies learn the overall "speech envelope" of the primary language and then start to pick up on specific words.

"Baby talk" that is not desirable is the use of immature productions of words in the flow of regular adult speech. It is okay for a child who is learning to talk to call a train a "choo choo", but it is not advisable for an adult to refer to a train as a "choo choo." What's a great alternative? --The adult should make a comment using the real word train, and then follow up with the sound effect for the train. It's great to say "choo choo!" to present the train sound but not to use it as a noun. It's a subtle difference but a very important difference.

This article gave some great information about how children's vocabulary size and intelligence are affected by the quantity of words directed toward them in the first two years of life. Check out LENA for some great information about a device that helps parents find out how much they really are directing language to their children. (I have no affiliation with LENA, just admiration for the product and research conducted by that foundation.)

By the time children are toddlers, child-directed speech needs to change from the silly, long sentences that infants love to more thoughtfully presented statements (NOT questions!) that are systematically reduced in length from a full sentence down to whatever level at which a child is able to join in--that could be a phrase, a single word, a syllable, a single speech sound, or a sound-effects sound. I have written extensively on my concept of the Upside-Down Pyramid. It is a highly useful technique parents can use to help their children learn to talk better.

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