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Tue Jul 21 15:54:57 UTC 2009
from site below on how kids learn languages
By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard, Ap Medical Writer – Tue Jul 21, 3:08 am ET
WASHINGTON – The best time to learn a foreign language: Between birth and age 7. Missed that window?
"Recall that Japanese "L" and "R" difficulty? Kuhl and scientists at Tokyo Denki University and the University of Minnesota helped develop a computer language program that pictures people speaking in "motherese," the slow exaggeration of sounds that parents use with babies.
Japanese college students who'd had little exposure to spoken English underwent 12 sessions listening to exaggerated "Ls" and "Rs" while watching the computerized instructor's face pronounce English words. Brain scans — a hair dryer-looking device called MEG, for magnetoencephalography — that measure millisecond-by-millisecond activity showed the students could better distinguish between those alien English sounds. And they pronounced them better, too, the team reported in the journal NeuroImage.
"It's our very first, preliminary crude attempt but the gains were phenomenal," says Kuhl.
But she'd rather see parents follow biology and expose youngsters early. If you speak a second language, speak it at home. Or find a play group or caregiver where your child can hear another language regularly.
"You'll be surprised," Kuhl says. "They do seem to pick it up like sponges."
Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL5+
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