Babies Learn Grammar Before They Speak
Feb 14, 2022 Every parent cannot wait until their child utters their first word. This typically happens around one year of age, but can happen sooner!
All parents can appreciate the profound moment of their baby’s first words. I remember being so excited when my daughter finally said “mama,” because she said “dada” at around 10 months!
My son was the opposite. He said “mama” first at around 9 months and then quickly followed that up with “dada” about three weeks later. But the topic of how children learn their first words and grammar is fascinating.
Once my daughter was around the age of 2, we really saw her baby grammar and vocabulary expand. Even now, she says things that amaze me. I wonder what else she’s picking up (probably the things we don’t want her to remember, right?).
Recent studies in France looked at how soon babies actually use grammar. If you have your own child, you know that kids start playing with simple phrases and sentences. Baby talk is the first step. Their grammatical complexity and accuracy don’t develop for quite a while.
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The conducted study found that “even before uttering their first words, babies master the grammar basics of their mother tongue.” They found that eight-month-old French infants can distinguish “function words, or functors – e.g. articles (the), personal pronouns (she), or prepositions (on) – from content words – e.g. nouns (rainbow), verbs (to drive), or adjectives (green).”
Babies frequently hear these words because there are fewer of them, and they go before content words in languages like English and French.
They also found that babies learn content words more slowly, and it even varied in kids within the same family. The reason why? The study’s inconclusive results and the author’s statement that more research is necessary to determine a cause.
Respect Their Differences
From my experience in working with young children and from watching my own kids grow and develop, every kid is different. One child may develop their motor skills quicker than their sibling who spoke sooner. This was the exact case with my own two children.
My daughter, although age appropriate, moved slower than my son. I chalk that up to the fact that my son wants to be with us and my daughter so he was more motivated to get himself going. For him, producing speech sounds and expressive language was a way to get our attention!
The brain is an amazing organ. The fact that there is so much research on determining what we are inherently born with is fascinating!
If you are interested in learning more about speech development, contact Speech Blubs or our speech and language pathologists and we will write a blog!