Guus Bosman

software engineering director

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How language comes to children: from birth to two years

This book describes the current scientific understanding of how children learn a language in their first two years. It is a thorough book but very readable. It is a translation from a French book.

The book is full of fun facts:

  • Babies will babble in a lower pitch to their father than to their mother.
  • Babies at 8 to 9 months already have a feel for which words "sound right". American babies were less interested in Dutch words such as "zwetsen" and "vlakte" which contain "zw" and "vl" sounds that don't appear in English words.
  • Fairly early on, baby babbling will pick up the melody of the mother language. So French babies babble differently than American or Chinese babies, and adults can often tell what a baby's mother tongue is.

I was mostly interested in the developments during the first year, since Nora is now almost 6 months old. Still the remainder of the book was interesting as well, with several case studies of children in France and the USA and every child's language style.

The book is not primarily about dual language kids but the author enjoys pointing out the cultural differences between various countries. French children for example, know more food-words at an early age, Swedish kids more words for activities and American kids more nouns.

I picked this book when I went to the Arlington library with my parents.

Bénédicte de Boysson-Bardies

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