On July 20, 2019, IRCN held the event, “How Do Children Learn Language? -Q&A Session on Infant Language Acquisition- ” by Sho Tsuji, Principal Investigator of IRCN at RYOZAN PARK PRESCHOOL, a bilingual nursery in Tokyo.

First of all, Dr. Tsuji explained about “Early Age Language Acquisition”. Babies are able to identify the characteristics of their mother tongue just after birth and they have ability to adapt themselves and choose what is important in their environment to learn their native language effectively.

Second part of the lecture was about “6 Principles – How to Support Language Acquisition.” The six principles are: “Frequency (Number of Words Heard)”, “Baby’s Interest (Joint Attention)”, “Contingency (Reaction from Parents)”, “Meaningfulness (Increasing Coherence)”, “Diversity” and “Reciprocity (Different Levels of Language).”

In this lecture, Dr. Tsuji told that it is important to “talk a lot” to babies because the number of words the babies know is correlated with the number of words heard (“Frequency”), to have joint attention, for instance looking in the same direction as babies (“Interest”), and to react to babies’ actions at the right time (“Contingency”).

The third part of the lecture was about “Bilingualism.” The 40 participants, mostly parents, were very much interested in whether bilingualism makes their babies/children smarter. The answer from Dr. Tsuji was that not only early multiple language learning but also other early enrichments like early music education can improve cognitive skills, for instance, flexible switching between tasks.

At the Q&A session, Dr. Tsuji explored the answer to the question from a parent, “Screens for babies - yes or no?” Babies up to two years of age do not learn from watching screens, but by watching together and talking about the content of the screen the situation can be improved, since it will increase contingency. In the future, interactive applications that react properly to the babies might be developed.

Thank you for your interest and participation!

The IRCN Babylab lead by Dr. Tsuji, is now recruiting babies from 0 months to 2 years of age who can participate in their research. If you are interested, please sign up below!