Babies – The best language learners out there.

In these videos, you’ll hear how babies and young children learn to communicate, learn about the world around them, and begin to understand and talk. From fetal learning, to learning in the first few years, you get to know how young children’s skills change, and how the experiences they get shape their learning. A fascinating expedition into the minds and brains of little ones… Enjoy :)

The Linguistic Genius of Babies: Dr. Patricia Kuhl

Watch Dr. Patricia Kuhl, an eminent language researcher who has uncovered much of what we know about babies’ early language abilities.

Dr. P. Kuhl calls babies ‘linguistic genuises’. They truly are. She discusses how babies learn language, and walks you through her research that has advanced our understanding of babies in leaps and bounds. She illustrates what these findings mean for parents and caregivers.

Are Babies Born to Learn? Learning to Learn

The answer is ‘yes’. But what can parents and caregivers do to support learning in babies? How much do infants understand and how can parents support that? How do babies develop emotional intelligence? Is motherese or parentese good for babies? When can children follow an adult’s gaze, and how can this affect future language skills? All questions many parents may wonder about. Learn the answers from science in this video.

Born to Communicate: A fascinating series about how babies learn to engage and interact with people and the world around them.

Born to Communicate: What newborns and very young babies can do. Chapter 1

Babies are born to communicate. In this series, experts talk with parents, and explain the techniques they use to find out what babies know, how they learn, and what their findings mean for parenting.

In this video, you hear about the very beginnings of how babies perceive their environment, and I bet you’ll be surprised to hear what your newborn can already do! And, learning starts in the womb –yes, your baby has been eavesdropping on your conversations before she was born.

Born to Communicate: Learning in the first year. Chapter 2

The baby is here and you may wonder what he or she knows. Does she know your face, your voice? Is your baby mesmerized by your face? Likely so, science says.

Hear what babies learn before they say their first words, and learn how their brains grow.

Listen as parents and scientists talk about the babies’ amazing skills to engage with the world around them in the first few months. Learn what kind of experiences are important for babies, and how you can keep them in the conversation…

Born to Communicate: How do scientists find out what babies already know? Chapter 3

Have you wondered how we get to know so much about babies? We can’t ask them directly, or have them press buttons to let us know what they think. Science has come up with very clever ways of asking babies indirectly what they already know. Step into a science lab and learn how researchers use different techniques to figure out what newborns and infants already know about language.

Study 1: How do the babies’ brains respond to language? Are all languages the same, or is the one heard in pregnancy special? Learn more about this question here..

Study 2: What does a baby’s sucking tell us about language? Watch what researchers find out about what 2-day-olds know about speech sounds. Having conducted such studies myself, I can say that this is an amazing tool to learn what newborns already know about language…

Born to Communicate: Raising Children Bilingually. Chapter 4

Do you have two languages spoken in your home? Many parents have questions about raising their child with more than one language. This video shows parents from bilingual households with their babies, and how they introduce their child to more than one language. Dr. Janet Werker, an eminent psychologist and language researcher, gives evidence-based advice and feedback. She discusses findings from her lab and others about what is known about raising children with two languages from birth.

Research is clear: Babies who are exposed to two languages from birth, do just as well as children growing up with one language.

Born to Communicate: Benefits of Baby Talk/Parentese. Chapter 5

Hey there, BAYYYBEEE! There’s a DOOOGIEEEE… Do you change the way you talk when you engage with a baby?

In this video, Dr. Werker discusses the characteristics and benefits of ‘baby talk’ or what scientists call ‘infant-directed speech’, or ‘parentese’. Also, learn more about how language skills grow with age, when babies understand their first words, and whether a late start necessarily means that a child will be delayed later on. If you wonder when young children learn to understand and talk, there is one message from science: Children vary a lot. You can have a 15-month-old talking a lot already, another one not saying any or just a few words. All of this is perfectly ‘normal’. That said, if you are worried at any point, it’s best to seek out a professional early on.

How About Toddlers and TV Watching?

Media and Children, Dr. Dmitri Christakis

Dr. Christakis, a pediatrician, researcher and parent – as he refers to himself, guides you through the child’s brain development, and discusses the effects of TV exposure on early development. His question is: Is there such as thing as too much or inappropriate stimulation for a child, and if so, what does it do to development. Follow him into his headline -making research, learn about how mice react when facing overstimulation, and how ‘Bloctivities’ promote language learning:

The key message: Increasing real time play – play with live human beings – and less time with fast-paced media is key to a child’s head start. Infants and toddlers learn best from and with real people.

Limit the Amount of TV Your Toddler Watches

This is the advice given by pediatrician and researcher Dr. D. Christakis. Hear from Dr. Christakis about TV watching habits in young children – those under age 3 – and its effects on their development. How many children under age 2 do you think have TVs in their bedrooms? And for how many hours to children under age 2 watch TV a day? Even though infants and toddlers are clearly interested in watching TV or other screens, what do they learn, and how does too much TV early on impact their development down the road. Learn more in this clip.

Babies, And What We Still Learn From Them…

2013 Think Tank, Dr. Andrew Meltzoff

Are you still wondering why babies don’t learn from watching TV, even programs tailored to them such as baby videos? You may think they learn, especially so because they are clearly interested in watching the screen.

The answer is simple and becoming more and more obvious in recent research by Dr. Meltzoff and Dr. Kuhl: Babies are social learners and need social cues from real people to thrive and learn.

A child’s first years, and in particular the first 3 years, are crucial for his future development, according to Dr. A. Meltzoff. He is one of the pioneers in uncovering the many astonishing skills young infants already have and he and other researchers have just found out one more: The child’s ability to follow an adults’ eye gaze shapes their learning. Did you know that children who are better gaze followers early on, build their vocabularies more quickly and say more words at age two? How well does your child follow your eye gaze? Does she tune into you, and check out what you’re looking at?

Why Efficiency in Processing Language is Important: Dr. Anne Fernald

This is a question central to researchers at Stanford University. Young children vary a lot how quickly they learn to understand and talk. Some are faster than others, often by several months. So does it really matter to get a head start and to understand first words quickly? It does, at least that is what Dr. Fernald and her research team is finding. Listen as she explains why a quick and effortless understanding of words gives some toddlers an extra edge early on: It allows them to pick up new information, integrate it with what they already know and in doing so, they can advance their own learning more quickly and easily.

Get a fascinating glimpse into how toddlers’ eyes tell us what they understand as the little ones comfortably lounge on their parent’s lap. Having worked in Dr. Fernald’s lab for years, I know first-hand how much we can find out about developing language skills by tracking and analyzing young children’s eye movements.

The Birth of a Word: Dr. Deb Roy

A wired up house and what this tells us about language learning…

MIT researcher Dr. Deb Roy MIT researcher Deb Roy wired up his house with video cameras to find out more about how his infant son learned language. The biggest private data collection of about 90,000 hours gives insights into how we learn as we make sense of words heard in different contents. An audio shows how his son’s word for ‘water’ evolves – from variants of ‘ga’ to the target word ‘water’. He found that caregivers support learning intuitively, subconsciously by first making language simpler, and taking up the ante just at the time as the child can say the target word.

Children are little scientists…

How Children Learn: Language, Hearing and the Brain 

How Children Learn: Language, Hearing and the Brain presented by the Rockefeller Center (speakers: Dr. James Hudspeth, Dr. Patricia Kuhl)

Language is everywhere in our lives. After a general introduction about the evolution and characteristics of language by Dr. Hudspeth, Dr. Patricia Kuhl discusses how young children learn language. If you want to start with Dr. Kuhl, forward the video to 32:15. Dr. Kuhl suggests that babies are much like scientists, carefully collecting data – about what they see and hear in their environment- and then learning from it all. She walks you through revolutionary science studies from her lab, and explains results and techniques used to figure out what children know about language, and what these findings mean for caregivers.

What do infants know about the sounds they hear coming from our mouths?

Dr. Werker’s Sound Discrimination Research

Dr. Janet Werker, a pioneer in sound learning in infants, shows you what kind of ‘tools’ she uses in her lab to learn more about this question. Check out this fascinating video in which very young babies tell us what they can already do…

More About Speech Sounds and Babies, Dr. Janet Werker

Once again, take a step into Dr. Janet Werker’s research lab in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Discover how Dr. Werker and her research team use sophisticated techniques to learn more about what babies know about speech sounds. Learn how the experiences with you – as the baby listens to your talk day in, day out over the first year -, gradually change her listening skills. Find out what babies lose and what they gain in their knowledge about sounds in their first year.

Is play important for the developing child?

Ready, Set, Grow: Dr. Meltzoff on the Importance of Play in Early Learning

Early learning provides windows of opportunities for babies. How do early learning and brain development feed into children’s later development ? Are there indications that supporting children in their early lives – from birth to age 5- pay off later on? Listen to what Dr. Meltzoff, an eminent psychologist from the University of Washington, has to say to these questions.

Dr. Meltzoff is well-known for a headline making study in the 70ies: He showed that newborns imitate behaviors they see in others. He stuck out his tongue to a newborn and the newborn slowly stuck out a tongue, as well.

What stimulates learning?

Ready, Set, Grow: Tips on How to Stimulate the Mind of an Infant

How can we support and stimulate an infant’s learning? The summed up answer of the experts is – ‘spending time and building a wonderful relationship’, while also taking care of oneself’. I’d go further and say, spending ‘regular, focused, one-on-one’ time with the infant. Listen to the many questions parents have on this topic…

How smart are babies? What do they know? How do they learn?

Office Hours: Infant Learning and Intelligence, Dr. Jenny Saffran

Watch a discussion with Dr. Jenny Saffran, director of the infant learning lab at the University of Wisconsin, and find out more about what infants know and how they learn.

Your view about babies is likely going to change as you watch this video. The bottom-line is: Babies let you see only a tiny fraction of what they know. So, it’s safe to assume that your little one will pick up a lot more from you than what you can see or even imagine.

Infants are enormously busy underground workers and are born able to make sense of the world right away. Dr. Saffran discusses new methods that have given us tremendous insights into babies learning and thinking. She is a pioneer in uncovering the powerful statistical learning abilities in infants, and also does research in music cognition. Yes, by tracking how you talk, when you make pauses, which syllables you combine, where you lengthen sounds, infants carve out words.

Yes, you may not have known that a little statistician crawls on your floor, tracking all the information he sees and hears from you, busily uncovering patterns that make him learn more and more.

Have you heard of fetal learning?

Annie Murphy Paul: What We Learn Before We’re Born

When does learning begin, a question posed by Anne Murphy Paul, a science writer. Watch this TED talk to gain insights about the learning that happens even before we are born, at a time while babies are still in the womb.

How do Babies’ Brains Develop? Click here to find out.