WASHINGTON: Babies who hear two languages regularly in their mother's womb are more open to being bilingual, a study published this week in Psychological Science shows.
Psychological scientists from the University of British Columbia and a researcher from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in France tested two groups of newborns, one of which only heard English in the womb and the others who heard English and Tagalog.
To determine the babies' preference for a language, the researchers studied the newborns' sucking reflex; increased sucking by a neonate indicates interest in a stimulus.
In the first experiment, infants heard 10 minutes of speech, with every minute alternating between English and Tagalog.
The English-only infants were more interested in English than Tagalog. The infants exposed to two languages, on the other hand, showed an equal preference for both English and Tagalog.