How many languages does your baby speak? What?? What!! What a crazy question!! As if kids didn’t have enough pressure on them from what is becoming a progressively early age… now we have to teach them another language pre birth!!
But actually that’s not what this is about- this is positive news (especially if you’re an adopted child, or have adopted any children internationally)!! Research has shown that children can retain languages that they haven’t ever really heard, just through pre- birth exposure. Recent research with adopted children has shown that the child is able to maintain a knowledge of the birth- mother tongue, even when it has never been used by their adoptive parents. This is amazing news- presented by the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro and McGill University’s Department of Psychology.
Studies describe this first language as a ‘lost’ language: in the study it was Chinese adoptees who were raised by French- Canadian parents. fMRI scans show that children exposed to Chinese as babies display similar brain activation patterns as children with continued exposure to Chinese when hearing Chinese words. Their brains seem somehow to be wired up to detect specific sound categories, so someone who had this very short exposure would have an advantage if they wanted to learn this language again.
There are not studies as of yet on what effect this would have in later life, and on whether these children would have an easier time learning new languages, however there are definite implications of re-learning being easier. Anyone who is a fan of Modern Family will be excited for Cam and Mitchell, whose adopted daughter Lily will I’m sure soon wow her dads with a perfect Vietnamese sentence.
Now don’t you wish you were adopted!!