A child’s formative years are very important since the habits and traits they acquire at this stage determine the type of person they will become. It is also during this period that the child grasps words and learns to speak. There can be big differences between the time it takes different children to learn to talk. Most children say their first words in the first 18 months and then speak sentences until they are two or three years old. Some children start doing this quickly. New research has revealed why such differences exist between children.
The objective of the study, led by psychologist Elika Bergelson, was to determine the reasons for the differences in the time children need to acquire language. International psychologists examined 1,001 children up to four years old who took part in the study. Surprisingly, it was discovered that the number of years it took a child to learn to speak had no relationship to anything like the time of day she spoke, her gender, her socioeconomic background, her exposure to multiple languages, etc. In all cases it was found that children who learned to speak early listened more to adults.
While language learning has little to do with it, parents’ poor economic and social circumstances are typically blamed for a child’s delayed ability to speak. Studies have shown that a child’s chance of learning a language increases with the number of people who speak to him or her. Parents and anyone living near young people should be urged to communicate as much as they can in such circumstances.
In such circumstances, it is important to remember that children from joint families in rural regions have more opportunities to listen than to speak, making them more likely to communicate at an early age. In contrast, they interact less in an urban environment because there are fewer people and therefore may learn the language late.
This study covered 12 countries and 43 languages and included both rural and urban children. In the research, children aged between two months and four years recorded the sounds around them several times during their development. Forty thousand hours of recording were studied using machine learning and the effect of various factors on the language learning process was investigated, and it was clearly found that children who listen more also start speaking earlier.
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first published: January 29, 2024, 12:22 IST
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