Babies Start Learning Language inside the Mother’s Womb

July 5, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. infant [IN-fuh nt] (n.) – a baby or a young child who still cannot walk or talk
ExampleInfants usually start crawling six to ten months after birth.

2. rhythm [RITH-uh m] (n.) – (In music) the regular pattern of long and short notes
Example: The baby recognizes the rhythm of the mother’s voice.

3. pacifier [PAS-uh-fahy-er] (n.) – a rubber or plastic nipple used by babies to suck or bite on
Example: The baby uses a pacifier as a substitute for her milk bottle.

4. bilingual [bahy-LING-gwuh l] (adj.) – can speak two different languages 
Example: The couple is looking for a bilingual babysitter who knows how to speak French and English.

5. disrupt [dis-RUHPT] (v.) – to disturb or to interrupt an activity
Example:  The loud horn disrupted the baby’s sleep.


Read the text below.

A new research revealed that babies learn language even before they are born, claiming that fetuses listen to their mothers during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy.

The study involved 40 infants who are 30 hours old and are exposed to Swedish and English vowel sounds. The researchers measured the babies’ responses through pacifiers connected to a computer, while the babies’ reaction to sounds was measured by how long they sucked the pacifier.

Researchers found that babies suck the pacifier harder when they heard a foreign language. Results also showed that babies learn to identify language even when inside the womb, especially when the baby's hearing is fully developed. Babies with bilingual mothers, on the other hand, can accommodate more languages that can be acquired through natural exposure.

However, Christine Moon, lead author of the study, warned parents against intentionally exposing language audio courses to unborn babies. Moon said that intentional exposure may affect the baby’s natural ability to learn through hearing and may also disrupt the baby’s sleeping cycles.

A scientific director of a school for the deaf said that a baby hears language rhythms from the mother’s voice. However, the baby of a deaf mother can hear rhythms only through mother’s hand movements. The rhythm could help the baby develop the ability to learn language.

Researchers added that understanding how babies learn fast is connected with the way humans comprehend speech and could help find ways in improving lifelong learning. However, further research is still needed to confirm the results of this study.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, how else can talking to the unborn baby help in its development? Please explain your answer.
·         What do you think are the advantages of learning language early on? Kindly explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         What other ways can mothers do to help the baby’s brain development? Please explain briefly
·         Why do you think it is important to help babies improve brain development early on?


July 5, 2013