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How do babies learn what words mean? child development language acquisition linguistics Mar 29, 2021

By 12 months, babies understand about 50 words (Fenson et al., 1994) and by age 6 a typically developing child knows between 9,000 and 14,000 words!! That's learning about 9 words a day on average! Linguist Stephen Pinker called them 'lexical vacuum...

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Did you know babies cry in different languages? child development language acquisition linguistics Mar 23, 2021

Ever wondered why we can identify our own baby's cry amongst others? Some fascinating research I've been reading about at uni this month has a theory that babies' cries are like a little melody, each with its own melodic arc.

German babies cry with...

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If adults speak so quickly (averaging 150 words per minute!) how do babies ever pick it up? child development language acquisition linguistics Mar 16, 2021

Far from being confounded by the slew of sounds they hear from birth (and even before), babies are slowly and carefully piecing together evidence of how speaking works, what it's for, how it feels physically and emotionally, what all these sounds mean,...

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Let's explore "semilingualism" and why this term is no longer used. language acquisition linguistics Mar 02, 2021

Let's talk about the damaging and redundant term 'semilingualism' that has cropped up around social media recently.

You might have heard it? Sounds a bit scary. Semi = half. Half-lingual? It's not a term that researchers use now, and it is quite...

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The more languages, the better? Hmmmm maybe... child development language acquisition linguistics Feb 24, 2021

Yes, Babel Babies is a multilingual programme, but that's not to say that children can learn infinite languages simultaneously, or that a smattering of lots of languages is enough if there isn't at least one language learned to an age-appropriate...

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Are children who mix their languages confused? Let's explore this child development language acquisition languages linguistics Feb 17, 2021

There is so much confusion around mixing languages, and it worries me that parents and children are often left feeling ashamed of this very natural, normal, and creative by-product of bilingualism.

Mixing languages is a stage in the process of language...

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Everyone is a linguist! language acquisition linguistics Feb 08, 2021

Over my 20 years as a languages teacher, and the last ten years running Babel Babies, I've heard countless adults tell me they are 'rubbish at languages' and hope they can help their children skip this problem by starting them early.

Let's be clear: if...

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Learning languages: the earlier the better? child development language acquisition Nov 20, 2020

I often hear people saying 'the earlier the better' when it comes to learning languages. But it's a more complex issue that needs some unpacking, rather than a universally applicable statement of fact.

A really important thing to consider when thinking...

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Multilingual is Normal Book babel books language acquisition languages resources Sep 23, 2020

We did it! We published the Multilingual is Normal book, an anthology of sixty voices, talking about talking, in just one month from launch on 10th July to publication day on 10th August 2020!

This was my first foray into book publishing, and I learned...

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The Gift of Languages language acquisition languages linguistics Jan 13, 2020

As I write this in a café whilst on a post-Christmas holiday in Paris, I’m listening to my three children play with the words on the menu – making observations about how café is the same in English, and crêpes has a...

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Can toddlers have a conversation? child development language acquisition Feb 04, 2019

Do conversations with toddlers work? This is a headline we spotted today. We sometimes get asked why we bother talking to children under 2, because they can’t have a conversation (the implication being they can’t understand).

Well, they can...

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Why teach your children foreign languages? babel babies language acquisition Aug 21, 2012

I’ve just read an interesting article about the benefits of teaching foreign languages to our children. It was written by a lady who has moved her entire family to France in order to pursue their language goals!

Whilst we can’t all move to...

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