Netflix Twelve Part Series ‘Babies’ Episode: #4 FIRST WORDS

Experts examine the rhythm and flow of language and explore how babies break down linguistic beats before they know how to speak.

It is fascinating to review the tenants of how we learn language.  Children vary widely in when and how they begin to speak.  Some dabble with language for a long time before becoming verbal.  When they began communicating it is in full sentences, and amazingly clear.  Others begin saying words early and quickly begin communicating in other ways.  It is an amazing process to observe.  I have babies begin trying to communicate as early as three months.  

In working with families during the first months of their baby’s life I encourage them to communicate often with their children.  I encourage them to speak about the things they love, sharing their passion and excitement with their children even though the words are foreign.  Reading to their infants from their favorite magazines or books encourages connection.  In my mind it is the connection with baby inspiring language and communication.  So many things are part of the communication process.  Body language, emotion, and touch contribute to making one’s intentions known.  The cadence and sound of language is a part of the whole.  

Two Research Studies in this area.

Kathy Hirsh-Paske. Director, Infant Language Lab. Temple University, Philadelphia, Penn. USA

Children begin leaning about language in utero as soon as they can hear. They hear the melody’s of speech continually. They begin communicating through cries, then grunts, hand motions. 

Tested for recognition between natural and unnatural patterns of speech. Found babies understood the differences and became board with the normal patterns of speech, preferring the made up patterns.

My own assessment:  It is difficult for me to see the recognition and learning researchers claimed.  I want a more definitive scientific way of clarifying the baby’s reactions.

Erich Jarvis. Proff. Lab of Neurogenetics of Language. Rockfeller UniversityUSA.  Dancer. Turned to science. Why can some animals imitate sound and some can’t?              5 vertebrate animals can.            Vocal learners,  

3 birds:  Humming Birds, parrots, songbirds 5 animals:  Elephants, dolphins, bats, seals & humans. Must be able to imitate novel sound

Research began in 1989. Wanted to understand/prove vocal pathways were same as humans.  8 years later. Accidental discovery. Imitating flying stimulated song areas of the brain. Gestures and songs work same part of the brains. For babies. Physical motion stimulates language centers. Like walking it takes time to learn.

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