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"Babble On" -- The Discovery Files

The Discovery Files
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Research from the University of Washington and the University of Connecticut shows that what spurs early language development isn't so much the quantity of words a baby hears as the style of speech and social context in which speech occurs.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

(Sound effect: baby talk) Whooo's my little baaaybeeee? (Sound effect: baby coo)

I'm Bob Karson with the discovery files--new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

(Sound effect: sound under: parent interacting with child) If you're not around kids a lot, the strange way of speaking to infants known as 'parentese' may sound funny, or overly cute. But researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Connecticut say, "hold on, baby" that speech pattern might well be beneficial for baby's current and future language skills.

(Sound effect: baby sounds) The team outfitted one-year olds with tiny vests that contained audio recorders to collect the sounds around them, including interactions with family members. The team analyzed over 4,000 intervals of recorded speech, noting among other things, whether or not the adult used parentese, or baby talk.

A year later, parents filled out a questionnaire measuring how many words their children knew. On average, infants who heard the most baby talk knew 433 words, those who heard the least, 169.

The findings reveal that what spurs early language development isn't so much the quantity of words parents use, as the style of speech. The study also showed parentese works best one-on-one. Speak slowly and emphasize important words. Your goal is to get the baby to babble back. (Sound effect: baby babble sound)

This would probably work on your husband too.

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