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How do babies learn to talk?

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How Do Babies Learn To Talk? "Goo goo gaa gaa" might be what you think is the beginning of how babies learn to talk, but you'd be wrong! Language learning starts well before babies utter their first words or babbles. Once babies can hear, they respond to sounds. There's no question that babies in the womb jump in response to noises, such as fireworks. Even before they're born, they eavesdrop on their mother's conversations. They don't recognize words, but they recognize their mother's speech patterns. At first, language is only like a melody for them, but they enter the world prepared to learn any of the world's 7,000 languages. With the melody imprinted, the first problem the baby faces is finding the units in the speech it hears. Where does one word end and the next begin? By 4 1/2 months of age, they're well on the way to finding words in the stream of speech that washes over them. They start by recognizing their own name compared to a name with the same number of syllables or stress pattern. So if your name is Irving, it has stress on the first syllable (IRving) and is two syllables long. When babies are given a chance to listen to Irving versus say, Wilson, a name with the same pattern, they prefer to listen to their own name. Your name -- and other frequently occurring words -- are an anchor in the mass of sounds coming at you when people talk an unknown language. Research tells us that at 6 months of age babies can recognize a word they hear after their own name. The word "momma" serves the same function -- helping babies find words in the speech stream. Next, they need to figure out what words mean. Of course, some of the first words babies understand are "mommy" and "daddy." Research tells us they attach the word "mommy" to their own mom and not to just any woman. Likewise for "daddy." But learning what words mean is complicated. What does the word "rabbit" refer to? While it seems obvious, think of yourself in a foreign country. Someone says the equivalent of "rabbit" as a bunny hops by. What could it mean? Maybe the whiskers that are bobbing up and down. Or maybe the white fur. How do we know when words refer to the whole object and not to the properties of the object (say, white) or the rabbit parts (like, ears)? By 12 months, babies seem to interpret words as labeling objects -- and the whole object as opposed to its parts or features. Now, after babies find words and know some meanings, they have to learn how words go together to make sentences. They know more about their language than what they can say -- just as you could understand more in a foreign language than you could speak. So while their first spoken words appear around 12 months of age, they may already understand hundreds of words. By 18 months, they can understand 5 and 6-word sentences. Picture an oversize TV screen. On one half of the screen, babies see Cookie Monster hugging Big Bird. On the other half they see Big Bird hugging Cookie Monster. They watch with rapt attention. When they hear "Where's Big Bird hugging Cookie Monster?" they look more at the scene that shows this relationship than at the other one. Amazing. It means that babies are already using grammar, or the order of the words in English, to figure out who's doing what to whom -- even if they aren't saying much at all. So here's a paradox: Babies can't tie their shoes or be left alone for more than 30 seconds, and yet they're like sponges when it comes to learning languages. The next time you're tempted to think of a newborn baby as a vegetable, think again! They're paying attention -- and they learn languages better than their older and wiser parents!

Video Details

Duration: 4 minutes and 51 seconds
Country: Spain
Language: English
Producer: Manuel Pérez Gutiérrez
Director: Manuel Pérez Gutiérrez
Views: 273
Posted by: mapegu on Oct 15, 2008

LISTENING 4 - Idioma extranjero (inglés) y su didáctica

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