Yesterday’s New York Times summarized the latest research in babies’ acquisition of more than one language:
[T]he researchers found that at 6 months, the monolingual infants could discriminate between phonetic sounds, whether they were uttered in the language they were used to hearing or in another language not spoken in their homes. By 10 to 12 months, however, monolingual babies were no longer detecting sounds in the second language, only in the language they usually heard.
Contrary to earlier beliefs, babies seem to distinguish between different languages handily. The article reiterates earlier findings that “bilingual” exposure means face-to-face speech, NOT audio or video recordings.
For anyone wondering, Jacob’s most consistent Chinese word is huā (“flower”) and Wáwá (“doll”), although we use Wáwá as a proper noun.