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Language Starts in the Womb

by Johnny Acosta

Setting: I’m just getting home from work. I walk into the bedroom and see my wife on the bed watching television. I walk over and give her a kiss and say:

That’s life change alright. Let me give you a quick background on my situation at this time before I move any further in the story. I’m 26 and just graduated college. I was working at a part time summer job that I did every summer as a student. My wife and I recently got married as well, we didn’t do a fancy wedding either because we couldn’t afford one and honestly we didn’t care for one. We were planning on using that money to buy a home. (the money we didn’t have).

Great response right!?!? Good thing I told you my background or else you’d probably be saying “Why would you say that!?” I know right.. Rookie mistake, but boy did I grow up quick after that.

Shortly after, I was offered a full-time job with great benefits and was able to support my new little family. During this new transition of fatherhood, expecting my child to be here in the next 6 months, I have been doing extensive research on the development of a child like every other nervous, not knowing anything about babies, expecting father would do, which brings me to the purpose of this article.

As new parents, so much is going through your mind. Fears, doubts, possibilities, and everything else in between. One of my biggest fears I had was the development of my soon to be here child. I wanted to make sure I was going to be doing everything right to optimize his or her's development. During my research I came across something pretty interesting I wanted to share with other parents and language enthusiast.

Most parents know that it’s beneficial to speak to your baby while in the womb. Experts know that newborns prefer to listen to the same voices that they heard while in the womb, especially the sounds from mommy and daddy.

But what I found from this New York Times Article surprised me on how remarkable the development process really is ...

Dr. Anne Cutler, a psycholinguist and professor at the Marcs Institute for Brain, Behavior and Development at Western Sydney University, says that the thinking used to be that babies didn’t learn phonemes, which is the smallest unit of sounds that makes up words and language, until after six months of life. But a new study on adopted babies is telling us otherwise.

A doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands, where Dr. Cutler was the director, Jiyoung Choi and her colleagues did a study on Dutch-speaking adults. Some of the adults were adopted from Korea as newborns (before 6 months) or toddlers, but none of the them spoke Korean. What they found was that the adopted adults from Korea were able to make Korean sounds significantly better than native born Dutch-speaking adults.

Now I know I summarized that study in one paragraph, but if you didn’t catch the awesomeness in what this study means then read it again. (i’ll wait) ...

This means my baby really does understand mommy and me talking to him, (I say him because I feel like he’s going to be a boy) while still right there in the womb. This means what we say to him and what we have him listen to will really shape his development.

When I first reed this article I was thinking about helping my baby become bilingual. Because my wife is Caucasian and I am Mexican, we only speak English in the house. I talk Spanish to her and the baby sometimes, but i’m not fluent in Spanish. So we could have him listen to Spanish music with our headphones on my wife’s stomach to get him use to the language. This will significantly increase his ability to learn Spanish as a child and adult.

Our baby's’ development starts now and his language development is very important to us, especially living in Southern California where the majority of the people are bilingual. This article has been extremely help for me and I hope this information was valuable to you too. If not, I hope you at least enjoyed how I found out I was going to be a father story.

About the writer

Johnny is a devoted husband, soon to be father, a hard-working business owner at window tinting chula vista, and now a child language development enthusiast.

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