How Children Learn Languages - and What We Can Apply Ourselves


Children are a real miracle: In the first years of their lives they not only grow fast, they also learn very quickly!

Above all, the little ones among us learn their own mother tongue without having the slightest idea of grammatical subtleties. They just seem to soak up language with their mother's milk.

Sometimes we even envy bilingual children: Before they even learn to walk, the children hear the different mother tongues of both parents and process them in such a way that they will later speak both languages without errors.

But how does it work? What exactly predestines children to learn languages so well and quickly? And all this without voice CDs, apps and flashcards with vocabulary? This article will not only show you how children develop and learn language. You will also learn how to use this knowledge to learn a new foreign language more easily.

The learning process begins in the womb

Have you ever wondered how a child learns its own mother tongue?

The learning process begins in the womb.  In the twenty-second week of pregnancy, babies are already so well developed that they can hear. Of course, ambient noises from outside are dampened by the amniotic fluid in the womb, but voices and music can already be perceived by the unborn child. This way it recognizes his parents' voices and even their language even after birth.

Even before birth, the child learns prosody (speech rhythm), intonation and individual sounds. Researchers have discovered this on the basis of the so-called "High Sucking Rate" (HSR), i.e. the sucking rate of babies. The researchers played their mother tongue to the babies until they got used to the individual phonemes (sounds). When they then played a different language with different sounds, the babies sucked more strongly at the pacifier, which indicated increased attention.

This proves that babies already recognize their own language without speaking a word themselves. Impressive, isn't it?

Communication through screaming

No matter whether with your own children or in a streetcar: Each of us has seen a little baby scream at the top of his or her lungs.

It's a newborn's way of communicating with the environment. Of course, crying does not always have the same meaning: it can be an expression of pain, hunger or simply a desire for attention. What can be numbing for our ears is for babies to train their vocal cords.

Already starting from the sixth week occasional chuckling, cheering and gargling are added. These are spontaneous sounds that the child produces without actually speaking.

In this phase, parents and others unconsciously help the child to slowly recognize language structures: The so-called "baby talk", i.e. consciously slow talking to babies in a high pitch with many repetitions of words, helps them to slowly find out the rules of speech. If terms are also connected with objects, the child learns to develop linguistic concepts in the brain.

From babbling to the first words

Starting around the sixth month of life, babies start to babble. Individual sounds are merged into syllables, such as "baba" or "dada".

So it can also happen that the little ones say the word "Mama" for the first time. But that doesn't always mean they know what the words mean. Only when the child uses the word "mom" only for its own mother is it certain that it knows the meaning.

By the way, children speak the same in every language. Only as they grow up do they adapt to the language of their environment.

Even children who are deaf are babbling. When they learn sign language from birth, babies use sign language. They then repeat individual gestures instead of individual syllables as with normal hearing children.

From the single-word to the multi-word phase...

Children say their first word between ten and twelve months. The child forms concepts and can thus assign a name to things.

But it often happens, for example, that anything that moves gets called a dog. Only with time does the child learn to differentiate.

The child also lacks the ability to form complete sentences. In the multi-word phase, the connections of a noun with a verb can have several meanings: “Having a bear" can mean that the child wants the bear or that the bear wants something.

... and quickly to the first movements

Soon children will form their first sentences. From this point on, new words are learned quickly. Only complex grammatical structures are still an obstacle. Verbs usually remain in the infinitive at the beginning before children begin to bend them.

But even then, irregular forms of the past are difficult. If it is "said", then must it also be "eaten" or "drank"?! For parents such word creations are sometimes very amusing.

Over time, however, the child learns these forms until, at the age of nine to eleven, he or she is able to apply even the most complex grammatical rules.

But when is the best time for a child to learn foreign languages - especially if they already have enough to do with their mother tongue?

Bilingual language wonders

Isn't it enviable to meet bilingual children who can switch between two languages without any problems? You can speak two languages fluently and without an accent.

The sucking experiment described above suggests that babies can already distinguish foreign languages by intonation and different phonemes. The brain is born multilingual - and finally specializes in the mother tongue. The older children get, the worse they get at distinguishing the phonemes given to them.

Children raised bilingually seem to specialize in two languages, which is why it is very easy for them to change later on. The important thing is that your brain learns both languages from the beginning.

The brain - a neural network

There is a period that lasts until about the age of four in which the child's brain is particularly receptive. Until then, the neuronal networks in the brain develop, which are also responsible for language acquisition.

After that, of course, language learning is also possible, but from then on a new neural network must be created for each language - and this is more difficult to use than the existing one.

This explains why bilingual children can learn two languages so well - and why many of them find it easier to learn new languages later on.

However, if you think that the boat has sailed for you for easily learning new languages, then you are mistaken!

Learning languages by learning from the little ones

Don't despair if you haven't grown up bilingual. "It never works out that I learn a language as playfully and easily as a child," you might think to yourself. But if you take advantage of what you have learned about language learning in children, you can learn a new language through play.

Forget that it is necessary to spend hours learning vocabulary and grammar rules in order to learn a language.

The Birkenbihl method used by Linguajet uses the findings of the neuronal research mentioned above.

Brain-friendly learning

With Linguajet you learn a language, just as children learn their language. The first step is to familiarize yourself with a text passage that is translated word for word into English.

You will hear the foreign text several times. Words and their pronunciation are slowly being internalized.

Finally, when you know all the words, play the text in the background. You can do whatever you want - ride a bike, clean or cook.

By hearing the texts over and over again, the sound of the words imprint themselves in your subconscious.

Almost like a language stay

You will be amazed at how quickly and easily you learn a new language this way. What helps children - repetition, clear speech and speech rhythm - can't hurt adults either!

As with a language stay, you learn new terms, sentences and pronunciation through listening. Thus, new neural networks are formed in the brain, which - as we have learned - are necessary for learning new languages.

Vocabulary cramming, as you know it from foreign language teaching at school, is a thing of the past.

You've not yet missed the boat - learn a new language!

Maybe you've been thinking about brushing up on your rusty French for a while, or maybe you're finally getting started learning Chinese. Don't wait any longer!

You've seen how easy it is for children to learn languages. Their neural networks are so flexible that a foreign language poses almost no problem for them. Infants and young children do not need to learn vocabulary or grammar rules: It works quite intuitively, by listening to the language of people from the environment, by assigning words to objects and by constant repetition.

Learning by imitation is therefore extremely useful not only for children, but also for you.

Use this way of learning a language with the services offered by Linguajet. Do it like children and learn English, French, Russian, Croatian or even Chinese in a playful way. You are guaranteed not to lose the desire to learn.

You will soon become a foreign language expert and be able to talk to native speakers.

 

 

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