Babies begin learning language from their mothers while they're still in the womb
It was previously thought they began picking up words in the first few months of lifeBut new research shows infants start to discriminate between vowel sounds before they are bornBabies tested acknowledged difference between Swedish and
English

By
Emily Payne

PUBLISHED:

14:41 GMT, 2 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

14:43 GMT, 2 January 2013


Babies have the capacity to learn and remember sounds of language from their mother during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy

Babies have the capacity to learn and remember sounds of language from their mother during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy

Babies start to learn language before they are even born, scientists have discovered.

Previously, it was believed that newborns begin to discriminate between language sounds within their first
months of life.

But a new study indicates that babies have the capacity to learn and remember elementary sounds of their language
from their mother during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Babies only hours old are
able to differentiate between sounds from their native language and a
foreign language, scientists have discovered. The study indicates that
babies begin absorbing language while still in the womb, earlier than
previously thought.

Read more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-01-womb-babies-language-mothers.html#jC differentiate between sounds from their native language and a foreign language, scientists have discovered. The study indicates that babies begin absorbing language while still in the womb, earlier than previously thought.

'We have known for over 30 years that we
begin learning prenatally about voices by listening to the sound of our
mother talking,' said Christine Moon, a professor of psychology at Pacific Lutheran University, who led the research.

'[But] this is the first study that shows we
learn about the particular speech sounds of our mother's language before
we are born.'

Forty girls and boys, about 30-hours-old , were studied in Tacoma and Stockholm, Sweden.

The babies heard either Swedish or English vowels and they could control how many times they heard the vowels by sucking on a dummy connected to a computer.

Vowel sounds were chosen for the study
because they are prominent, and the researchers thought they might be
noticeable in the mother’s ongoing speech, even against the noisy
background sounds of the womb.

In both countries, the
babies at birth sucked longer for the foreign language than they did for
their native tongue, regardless of how much postnatal
experience they had.

Early learning: New research has is indicated that babies learn vowel sounds in utero

Early learning: New research has is indicated that babies learn vowel sounds in utero

This indicated to researchers that they were
learning the vowel sounds in utero.

Patricia Kuhl, co-author and
co-director of the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the
University of Washington, added: 'We thought infants were 'born
learning' but now we know they learn even earlier. They are not
phonetically nave at birth.

'We want to know what magic they put to
work in early childhood that adults cannot.

'We can't waste
that early curiosity. The mother has first dibs on influencing the child's brain.

'The vowel sounds in her speech are the loudest units and the fetus locks onto them.'