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Before Birth

 

  • According to a report on early childhood development by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council of the United States, the capacity to learn a language is optimal from the 34th week of pregnancy until the age of 12 months, during the period when the brain synapses are forming. (Source: From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development, p. 188).
  • According to psycholinguist Bénédicte de Boysson-Bardies, a developing baby reacts to voices and distinguishes acoustic changes before birth. The developing baby also shows preferential reactions to the voice of the mother. (Source: Comment la parole vient aux enfants, p. 247).
  • In exogamous families (where the parents don’t have the same mother tongue) it would perhaps be worthwhile to expose the child to both languages by the 34th week of pregnancy. By softly singing and listening to one or two songs often, for example, parents can expose the developing baby to the sounds of the language in which they were composed. After birth, the baby would then recognize these sounds as being familiar, normal and comforting.