Fetuses have the power to learn language while being inside the womb. The study on the learning capability of fetuses has revealed that their exposure to the mother’s language helps them differentiate between the mother tongue and a foreign language right from their birth, or rather even before birth.
The ability to hear, and the senses that makes the brain process what it’s hearing, get developed in fetuses by the 30th gestational week. This means after this time, they can hear, and can feel the sound. What the mother says comes to their auditory nerves first.
And then the sounds coming from outside the womb, and from around the mother also come to them faintly. It’s during this period that the ears of a fetus get prepared to perceive the mother tongue. A sense of familiarity with the sound develops.
The voice of the mother is the first thing that the ears of a fetuses instantly identify. It’s that voice which the baby mainly listened to for the last 10 weeks of gestation. But another thing the baby focuses on is the vowels. The vowels are the stress points in speech, which the baby notices unconsciously while in womb, when the mother speaks.
It’s through the placement, spacing, stress, and pronunciation of the vowels, that the baby finds the mother tongue or language to be familiar, and gets accustomed to it.
Experiments were performed on newborn babies to see how they react to the mother tongue and to another foreign language. The results were very interesting and directed towards the findings.
The selected newborns were between the ages of 7 hours from birth to 75 hours of birth. They were made to hear their mother’s language and also a foreign language one after the other and reactions were noted.
To note reactions, they were given a pacifier to suck on, which was connected to a computer by wires for recording the sucking action. This setup brought interesting revelations.
When babies listened to the foreign language, they sucked on more to the pacifier, which reveal increased focus. When they heard the mother tongue, they sucked less on the pacifier revealing less focus on it.
This showed that babies were already accustomed to their mother tongue, and got interested by the new language they heard instead of the mother language.
The ability to learn is highest in humans at the beginning of life, and this has been proved by all means again and again, and the experiment adds to the awareness.