Baby Talk

Do you go ‘goo goo ga ga’ with babies? Do you talk in proper sentences or do you baby talk?

My parents seem to love to make sounds to get Gar to respond. They told me that my grandfather loved to say ‘Ah Ging’ and the baby will follow. It’s supposed to mean ‘Ah Gong’ or grandfather. They were mildly successful with El for one time only. However, they would be met with silence most of the time. Gar simply doesn’t like baby talk.

Sing to him, speak to him about the day, about his features, or anything else, and he will respond with lots of cooing and a wide range of sounds. I would ask him questions, and he would answer in his own way, and I would pause to let him answer, and then respond accordingly, as if I had really understood his words. Just a few days ago, I thought I heard ‘mummy’ in one of his babbling sessions.

In language acquisition for babies, they need to hear adult talk. They will get used to the sounds of the language, and they will start watching your mouth as you make the sounds. Face them when you are talking.

There is a four-step process in speech production according to Levelt (1989). First, you conceptualise the thought. Second, you formulate the words into appropriate syntax. Third, you articulate the sounds, and fourth, you self-monitor your speech. I am fascinated by this and wrote about this in my Critical Inquiry paper for my MEd. The only difference is instead of articulating sounds, students type words. People are able to learn a language through typing, as there is internal dialogue when they type. It gives them time to self regulate if there is asynchronous computer-mediated communication.

El typing ABC

El typing ABC

If we do not allow the babies to hear what your language sounds like, then they will take a long time. In fact, very young children are able to reach the first two stages. Before El could talk, he was already thinking, and formulating the words. He was just unable to articulate the sounds. I know this because instead of articulating the sounds, he typed out the words he wanted to say on his netbook. He was typing out A to Z, our names, and even the lyrics of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star when he was a year old plus. He only started speaking after 2 years, and even then, he was spelling words more than saying the actual words.

In another case, an autistic child, Carly Fleischmann, did not speak a words until she was a pre teen. She was given a lap top, and she started typing. Soon, she was writing long essays to explain what was going through her mind. It was like a magic switch that had turned on for her.

Some people teach their babies sign language so that they could express themselves. I did not really do this, but I had a few sign words for carrying and eating. I do not have sufficient data that babies who have learnt sign language pick up language more easily, or it could delay their speech. I only know that technology may just be the key to unlock the vast thoughts that are going through our little children’s minds.

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