Babies: Their Wonderful World
Professor Caroline Floccia, Head of the Plymouth Babylab, is featured among the experts in the BBC series, Babies: Their Wonderful World. The series brought together over 200 babies and scientists from around the world in one of the most ambitious scientific studies about babies ever attempted.
Professor Floccia examines why babies find to so much easier than adults to pick up multiple languages, and demonstrates a test to see whether babies or adults are better at recognising different sounds from different languages, using sounds from Hindi. Adults struggle to detect differences, whereas the babies can hear them straight away, but this hearing superpower only lasts a short time and by the time they are 12 months old, babies can no longer detect such linguistic subtleties.
Professor Floccia says:
Babies are born with the ability to hear all the different speech contrasts, all the different speech sounds found in the world. This is a very, very important ability because when a baby is born it could be exposed to up to 6,000 different languages. The child needs to be prepared to learn any of those languages but by the end of the first year of life, babies start losing this ability.