Baby Language Learning — Amazing Facts!
It’s true. Babies can learn language in incredible ways adults cannot. Their little brains are flexible and different than an older person’s. Have you ever seen a very young child displaying the ability to speak multiple languages? In some countries this is common, especially where traditionally many languages are spoken there.
As it turns out, baby and toddler brains have many more connections than an adults. The neuron, or brain cell, for a two to three year old toddler has about 15,000 connections (synapses) to other brain synapses. Adults, by contrast, have about half of that number. The more a brain connection is used, the stronger it becomes. The less it is used, the weaker its connection, which lead to its eventual loss. It is experience that determines which connections will be strengthened and which will be pruned out; connections that have been activated most frequently are preserved.
When an infant or toddler begins learning another language, certain important brain connections are made and then strengthened by continued use. These connections appear to increase the brain’s working memory. The benefits of working memory are:
- It helps children hold on to information long enough to use it
- It helps concentration and in following instructions
- It can affect learning in many different subject areas including reading and math
Research shows that speaking more than one language or multilingualism, improves the brain’s ability to function well in certain areas. One of these is executive function, or the ability to have sustained attention and switch between tasks effectively. Increased executive function has been linked to better academic performance.
A child who learns two languages causes her brain to stretch. Not only is that child learning both languages with reduced exposure to each vocabulary, but this is done while learning to tell the difference between the two! These actions cause changes in the brain that appears to have many advantages for children.
Having Your Baby Learn Sign Language Has Many Benefits
As time moves forward, the evidence is increasing. Babies can enjoy many benefits through learning sign language. It must make them feel extra good to communicate and see that adults are understanding what they are trying to convey. It’s relatively easy to have a parent begin teaching baby sign language to their little one.