Newborns can identify foreign languages

Babies can identify their native tongue from a foreign one when they are just a few days old, scientists have learned.

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This latest finding, published in the journal Science, also shows that 4 month old infants can tell whether someone is speaking in their native tongue or not without any sound, simply by watching a silent movie of their speech.

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This ability disappears by the age of 8 months, however, unless the child grows up in a bilingual environment and therefore needs to use the skill.

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The study involved showing videos to 36 infants of three bilingual French-English speakers reciting sentences. After being trained to become comfortable with a speaker reciting a sentence in one language, babies aged 4 months and 6 months spent more time looking at a speaker reciting a sentence in a different language, demonstrating that they could tell the difference.

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