How Early Should We Introduce A Second Language?

A recent study from the International School of Advanced Studies has found that babies pay significantly more attention to speakers that share his or her mother tongue than those who dont.

In the study researchers familiarised 12-month-olds via video with actors that spoke different languages. After toddlers were given enough time to identify who they shared a common tongue with, another video would be played which simply showed each actor gazing at an object. What researchers found was that despite the actors remaining silent, these children gazed for much longer periods of time at the person who spoke the language that was familiar to them. An identical prior experiment with five-month-olds yielded similar results.

Researchers infer that such favouritism comes down to optimising stimuli input. Since newborns are constantly in the process of categorising their brand-new world, they need to find ways to attach value to their surroundings. The trust of someone who speaks the same language Mum does is one of the ways that infants assign value.

We can use these findings to amend the way we choose to integrate a second language into the lives of our children. If language is used to assess the importance of information at such an early period, parents need to reconsider at what point they choose to introduce a new language to toddlers.

Judging from this research parents may want to start integrating a second language into the lives of their children at an even earlier age. Considering your children dont understand the nuances of their mother tongue, parents dont need to be fluent in order to talk to your baby in a different language. This early integration should motivate you to learn the basics of the intended language or apply what you already know to help indicate that your mother tongue and second language are just as important as each other.

Establishing value in another language will incentivise your baby to value the videos, books and people they encounter that speak this language.

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