Based on a recent study, babies like baby talk. Experts said that babies pay more attention to baby talk than regular speech, regardless of which languages they hear.
The study, which is done through UCLA's Language Acquisition Lab and 16 other labs worldwide, is part of the Many Babies Consortium. It aims to test theories about a baby's growth across a range of different ages and experiences.
The UCLA study found out that babies exposed to two languages had a greater interest in baby talk than the normal talk adults make. The research has also already shown that monolingual babies like baby talk.
Teaching babies two languages
Some parents worry that teaching their babies two languages could mean that they would not learn to speak on time. But, the new study said that bilingual babies are on track when it comes to this.
In another study published by Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, they found out that bilingual babies like babies talk at the same age as those who learn one language.
Megha Sundara, a professor at UCLA, said that through their various studies, they found out that learning and attention are the same for babies or infants, whether they are learning one or two languages.
She added that for parents who are worried about teaching their kids two languages because they would not learn to speak on time, Sundara said they did not need to worry. After all, learning a language earlier will help them understand it better. So, if they teach their babies two languages, it is a win-win.
In the study that took place in 17 labs on four continents, experts observed 333 bilingual babies and 384 monolingual babies from age 6 to 9 months and 12 to 15 months old.
However, UCLA's lab was the only one to provide data on bilingual babies who grew up hearing English and Spanish.
Babies and baby talk
Based on studies, the way babies like babies talk is very fine-tuned. Bilingual parents shared the percent of time English was spoken at home compared to Spanish. The more English, the bilingual babies had been exposed to, the stronger those babies like baby talk rather than the grown-up talk.
However, even babies with no English language exposure preferred the English baby talk rather than the grown-up talk. Although the baby talk is found across most languages and different cultures, English has one of the most exaggerated forms.
Sundara said that baby talk has a slower speech rate in most or all languages, with more pitch, and it is more animated and happy. Baby talk differs, however, mainly in how exaggerated it is.
Krista Byers-Heinlein, a psychology professor at Concordia University in Montreal, said that they could really understand bilingualism through their access to these various studies in different communities. She also believes that the unusual international multilingual collaboration such as the mentioned studies above creates a future study model.
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