I've really come to enjoy the TED homepage which compiles lessons/lectures from various experts on many interesting topics. Recently this talk from Patricia Kuhl was brought to my attention. It speaks directly to what I do in teaching babies/moms signing in English.
The thing that I found the most interesting is the research that shows babies become culture bound listeners by age 1. This means they stop hearing words/sounds that are not in their native language(s) by their first birthday. I thought they had up will age 3... 1 is so early!
As I learned Japanese as an adult I have been able to learn to hear a few sounds that I wasn't able to when I first came to Japan however I still can't hear the difference between yu and ryu or byoin and byouin. Thanks to this research I can understand that the reason is because my parents didn't have me take Japanese lessons with a native speaker when I was a baby. Wonder if there was even a Japanese speaker in the area way back then...???
Another thing that caught my attention is the importance of hearing the language spoke by a person, not simply watching TV or listening to a CD. This is a great reason to take a mommy & me style class!