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  • You know that feeling when you get tongue-tied, and words come out as a jumbled mess?


  • Maybe you forget a word, or have mushy grammar, or your pronunciation is all wrong.


  • There are a lot of things to keep track of!


  • It seems like learning one language would be hard enough for babies, who already have trouble eating and not spitting up everywhere.


  • But research has shown that infants are a lot more capable than you might think, especially when it comes to language.


  • In fact, a lot of babies from bilingual families grow up fluent in both languages.


  • Many psychologists think language is what's called an innate ability, or something we're born knowing how to do, like grasping objects and sucking on things.


  • Classic cute baby stuff!


  • So right from the start, babies are primed to learn a language --any language.


  • Most of us adults have trouble hearing subtle inflections in foreign languages.


  • Like, if you only speak English, it might be hard for you to hear the difference between certain sounds in Thai or Russian.


  • But in their first few months of being alive, babies can tell really similar sounds apart.


  • To figure this out, lots of researchers have done studies where they pick a sound from a foreign language and play it on loop for babies around four months old.


  • When the babies lose interest, the researchers switch to a new, similar sound.


  • Usually, these really young infants notice the difference and perk up somehow, like by looking around or sucking harder on a pacifier.


  • But if scientists repeat this experiment around eight months later, one-year-old babies typically ignore the second sound because they don't notice a difference.

    ところが、同じ実験を 8 か月後に行うと、1 歳になった赤ちゃんは大体が 2 回目の音を 1 回目との違いを認識できないので無視してしまいます。

  • That's probably because as they get older, their brain cells make connections that help them focus on the sounds of their native language, and they get rid of unused connections related to recognizing other sounds.


  • So, by the time an infant is one year old, its brain is already focusing on learning whatever language it's been exposed to most.

    というわけで、赤ちゃんが 1 歳になる頃には脳はすでにそれまで一番触れてきた言語の学習に対してフォーカスするようになります。

  • And, surprisingly, babies don't need any special training to be bilingual!


  • But they need equal exposure to both languages.


  • Now, you might have heard that bilingual kids develop more slowly than their monolingual counterparts, or are more likely to have speech delays.


  • But, according to the research, that's just not true!


  • That even applies to babies who grow up with one spoken and one signed languagelike English and American Sign Language.

    この事は、例えば英語とアメリカ英語の手話というように、話し言葉を 1 つ、手話を 1 つ話す形で育った子どもに対しても当てはまります。

  • As they get older, these kids keep their languages separate thanks to their awesome perception skills.


  • Just by watching faces and listening to verbal patterns, they're able to figure out when they should be speaking which language by around the time they're three years old.


  • And when they intentionally switch from speaking one language to another, like talking to their friends in English but to their mom in Cantonese, that's called code-switching.


  • Now, even though monolingual and bilingual babies develop at the same rate, one study from the University of Washington suggests that their brains process language a little differently.


  • Psychologists used electroencephalograms, also known as EEGs, to detect electric brain activity in some six-month-old monolingual and bilingual babies as they played recordings of speech sounds in English and Spanish.


  • Babies in EEG caps?


  • Super adorable.


  • They found that monolingual babies caused a spike on the EEG whenever a mismatched sound popped up, like a Spanish sound thrown in among a bunch of English sounds or vice versa, which means they noticed a difference.


  • But bilingual baby brains didn't notice when the languages switched.


  • When the same babies were 10 to 12 months old, though, the results changed.

    しかし、同じ赤ちゃんたちを生後 10~12 か月になった時に改めてテストしてみると、結果は変わったんです。

  • The monolingual baby brains only responded when a sound in their native language interrupted a string of foreign sounds.


  • But not the other way around.


  • And the bilingual babies went from not noticing a difference, to hearing both kinds of mismatches.


  • According to the researchers, this means that monolingual baby brains seem to solidify connections faster, to get ready to speak their primary language.


  • But the bilingual baby brains stayed more flexible and didn't develop that wiring until later on.


  • Turns out that this flexibility can have some developmental perks, too.


  • One study published in the journal Science found that bilingual babies may be better at learning rules and switching between them than monolingual babies.

    Science 誌で発表された研究では、バイリンガルの赤ちゃんは法則を理解して多言語を使い分けるのが一か国語のみを話す赤ちゃんに比べて優れていることが分かっています。

  • In the study, one-year-old infants were taught that, when they heard a certain pattern of sounds, they should look at a specific spot on a screen to see a fun toy.

    この研究では、1 歳児にある一定の音が聞こえたらスクリーンの一定のポイントを見ると楽しいオモチャが出てくるよ、と伝えました。

  • When the psychologists changed the pattern and moved the toy picture, the bilingual babies were better at figuring out the new rules and looking for the toy in the right places.


  • Multiple studies suggest that bilingual adults have similar benefits, like better focus and ability to switch between tasks, and even less cognitive decline when they get older.


  • But this doesn't mean all hope is lost if you're not bilingualit's just one path a human brain can take.

    だからといって、バイリンガルじゃないと希望がないわけではありません。ここで挙げているのは、人間の脳が持つはたらきのただの 1 つの例に過ぎませんから。

  • Our brains are really powerful, and even when you were a tiny, adorable baby, you were a lot smarter than you might think!


  • Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow Psych!

    今回の SciShow Psych をご覧いただきありがとうございます!

  • And special thanks to our patrons on Patreon who are helping us explain the human mind!

    Patreon を通してサポートしていただいている皆さんのおかげで、こうして人間の頭の中をのぞいてみる番組をお届けできています。

  • If you'd like to support the show, just go to

    皆さんも、 からサポートいただけると嬉しいです。

  • And to be the first to see new episodes like this, be sure to visit and subscribe!

    今回のような番組は で公開していますから、チャンネル登録もお忘れなく!

You know that feeling when you get tongue-tied, and words come out as a jumbled mess?


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B1 中級 日本語 赤ちゃん バイリンガル 言語 脳波 話す 英語

赤ちゃんがバイリンガルに育つには?(How Do Babies Become Bilingual?)

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    Seina に公開 2020 年 09 月 21 日