Language development Starts in the Womb

Yes, you read it right. The language development in the baby starts from when he/she is in the womb. New research shows that babies have learned how to differentiate between two languages.

Initially it was believed that babies may be sensitive to the different rhythms different languages have. This study begged the question that when in children does this sensitivity to the different rhythms in languages emerge and whether or not it may show up before birth.

The English language’s rhythm resembles Morse code while that of the Japanese language has a more evenly-paced rhythm. The team of scientists recorded a message in each in the respective languages by the same bilingual speaker and then played the messages to the fetuses of twenty-four women who were eight months into their pregnancies. Sure enough, the heart rate of the fetuses increases when exposed to Japanese language and came to a resting pace when played a second track of the English record.

The results suggested that language development in babies my indeed starts in the uterus. The fetuses tune their ears to the language they are soon going to acquire even before they are born through the speech signals they receive in the uterus. Prenatal sensitivity to the rhythms present in languages may actually be helping children take their first steps to learning a language.

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