An English teacher once told me in one of my classes to not practice infants with “baby talk” because this will definitely affect the child’s language development in the future. She also added that it will change the child’s proper pronunciation and articulation of words, likewise to familiarity to English vocabulary and diction towards words.
However, an article written from health.com stated that baby talk may play key role in language acquisition. Japanese researchers of the said editorial mentioned that “experience, gender, and personality appear to influence the “baby talk” parents use when interacting with their infants”. Can this be possible?
Defined by Wikipedia, baby talk is a nonstandard form of speech used by adults in talking to toddlers and infants. It is characterized by parents’ shortening and simplifying of words to make it more understandable to children with their very young age. Baby talk is also referred to as caretaker speech, infant-directed speech or (IDS) or child-directed speech (CDS) for other terms.
Going back to the current events, Reiko Maxuka and Yoshi-Taka Matsuda’s team at the Riekn Brain Science Institute in Tokyo had undergone an experiment by using “functional MRI to assess brain activity in 35 first-time parents whose infants hadn’t started to speak (preverbal) and compared them to 30 men and women without any parenting experience. The study included 16 mothers with toddlers who spoke two-word utterances and 18 mothers with children in elementary school.”
As the study was being processed, monitored participants who listened to recorded baby talk results to two different outcomes. “The brain scans showed that mothers with preverbal infants had increased brain activity in areas of the brain that govern language. This heightened brain activity did not occur in any other group, including mothers whose children had started to speak, according to a Riken news release. Among mothers with preverbal infants, those who were extroverts also had increased cortical activation in speech-related motor areas of the brain, the investigators found.” Additionally, the study shows that baby talk “acts as link for linguistic transfer from mother to infant and plays a crucial role in the early stages of infant language acquisition”, concluded by the researchers.
What do you think of these facts? Do you think baby talk contributes to the child’s cognitive development? Other studies even show that when parents or other adults respond to the infant’s baby talk by babbling in return, the verbal interaction demonstrates to the child the bidirectional nature of speech, and the importance of verbal feedback.