The ability to speak a language has often been cited as the attribute that distinguishes human beings from animals. Languages are highly complex: they convey more than a simple, objective message – they reveal our feelings, our intentions, our expectations and our experience. Reading between the lines is often seen as more accurate than listening to the words. This is exactly the case with babies! Their way to mastering a complex language is long and requires a lot of practice. Their learning process begins by careful listening and reading between the lines. Though they may not understand the word “no” yet, they know exactly what it means. By frowning, raising the voice and making clear gestures baby will grasp very quickly what is asked from him.

While adult language learners have to be taught actively, babies simply acquire the language, just as they learn to walk. Nobody has to explain to them how to form a sentence or how to convey a certain message. Right from the start babies know how to communicate their needs and desires.

It is also fascinating how the milestones of language acquisition within a limited time frame are strikingly similar across all languages although communicative interaction can be extremely diverse in different cultures. While Japanese may sound extremely complex and difficult to learn to a native English speaker, babies feel no level of difficulty because the acquisition of one language is practically identical to the acquisition of another language.

When babies’ hearing has developed in the womb, they listen to their mother’s voice attentively; and right from birth, they learn to look and listen how sounds are produced and what they could mean.

In fact, tests have shown that they can already distinguish between their mother tongue and a foreign language after 4 days by means of rhythm. Every language has its own rhythm which allows infants to distinguish languages early on.

Read on to find out how baby’s first language acquisition is structured.

Advertisements