by: Gelsey Brizo
How long does it take your baby’s Coos to be Smart?
So, how long does it take your baby’s coos to be smart? In other words, how long does it take your child to articulate themselves in a second language? Even after countless research and studies have been conducted, no one has come up with a concrete answer. The only real answer there is, is “it depends.” The rate in which children learn to speak or acquire a second language depends on a variety of different factors. There are simply far too many variables to settle on just one answer.
Children typically say their first word at around a year old and start building their own sentences at about two, (BabyCenter). The timeline for acquiring a second language is where it gets a little complicated. Depending on what language you’re teaching your child, how you introduce them to the new language, how frequently you are exposing them to the language, their age, and their motivation, you can get a variety of different results. For example, with baby sign language, a child can start learning at 6 months of age and be able to start signing back to you in 2 or 3 months, (Baby Sign Language). These aren’t going to be lush, complicated sentences by any means, but it is something that babies can produce and use faster than normal speech. This is because visible, physical cues are easier to decipher and reproduce than more subtle verbal ones. As far as language acquisition goes, this is ridiculously fast, which is why Baby Sign has become so popular recently. However, verbal communication in a second language gets far trickier.
According to Linda Halgunseth, a Professor of the University of Connecticut’s Education Department, it makes a big difference if your child learns a language simultaneously (at the same time as their native language) or sequentially (after already learning their first language). Sequential language learning is the format we are all most accustomed to. After the child learns one language well, schools usually start offering them exposure to a second language. Halgunseth says that although this method is traditional and does work, especially if the child starts learning the second language before the age of 6, it’s much easier for your child to learn another language simultaneously with their first. Not only is it easier, but there are cognitive benefits to simultaneous learning. “For example, they have greater neural activity and denser tissue in the areas of the brain related to memory, attention, and language than monolingual learners,” (Halgunseth). Giving the child a positive developmental outcome overall. So, when is it prime time to start second language exposure and start getting your child’s coos to genius level? Most would recommend right from the very start. Similar to the start time for sign language, Halgunseth suggests to begin at, or before, 6 months of age when your baby is starting to get curious about the sounds around her and is starting to try and respond to those sounds. “Before 6 months of age, simultaneous learners learn both languages at similar rates and do not prefer one language over the other. This is because they build separate but equally strong language systems in their brains for each of the languages they hear,” (Halgunseth). In addition to this advice, Halgunseth also warns parents to be careful about balancing the amount of exposure a child receives to the languages they are learning simultaneously. If you expose your child to one language significantly more than the other, they might start to prefer communication in that language and lose interest in learning the second one. This can be very difficult if the parents aren’t fluent in the second language, but language learning programs, like Smart Coos, and the many resources found on the internet can significantly help close the gap for monolingual parents.
So, how long does it really take you baby’s coos to be smart? Well, that mostly depends on you. When, how and how often you expose your child to a language can make all the difference in the amount of time it takes your little one to acquire a second language. Starting from birth might seem excessive, but research indicates simultaneous language learning is the fastest and most effective way to multilingualism. With any luck, your child can be speaking their native language and second language at the same time monolingual babies say their first words.
About the Author:
Gelsey Brizo. A senior at the University of Florida pursuing a degree in English. Born and raised in Miami, Florida she speaks both English and Spanish fluently and loves to watch and play soccer. A book fanatic who enjoys to read and write, she can’t go a day without a cup of coffee, a good read or her favorite music.
“Baby Sign Language.” Baby Sign Language. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.
“Your Child’s Talking Timeline | BabyCenter.” BabyCenter. Baby Center Medical Advisory Board. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.
Halgunseth, Linda. “How Children Learn a Second Language.” How Children Learn a Second Language. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.