Bilinguism starts in the womb... least, that's what the article below claims:

If you don't understand French, here's my attempt to translate the article into English...
Babies who evolve in a bilingual environment learn to differenciate both languages from the womb, according to a study published this week in Psychological Science.

A group of psychology researchers from University of British Columbia (Canada) and a researcher from OECD (France) came to that conclusion after studying 2 groups of newborns.

In the first group, babies had only heard English while in utero whereas the second group had heard both English and Tagalog (spoken in the Philippines).

In order to determine the babies' preference toward one language, the researchers have monitored their succion reflex, which increases when a newborn is interested by a stimulus.

In a first experience, babies have listened to a 10 minutes speach alternating every minute between English and Tagalog. Babies who were from the first group, and hence had only been exposed to English in utero, showed a more important succion reflex in the English parts than the Tagalog parts of the speach. Babies who had been exposed to both languages in utero did not show a preference.

Another experience consisted of speaking to babies in a language until they would no longer manifest interest. A second person woul then start adressing them either in the same language, either in the other one. The succion reflex has only shown to increase when the second person was communicating in the other language.

This experience suggests that bilingual babies, as well as unilingual babies are all capable of distinguishing between the 2 languages. This innate mechanism exists to help bilingual kids not confuse their 2 languages, and is an essential condition to the learning of bilinguism.
I have to admit I am completely impressed by these findings and glad that DF and I have been exposing our daughter-to-be to English and French conversations from the early beginning. Of course, I'm not going to pretend we did this in order to achieve any particular goal: we just happen to be a bilingual couple who interact with people in both languages everyday!

Still, it's great news to think Jade will start life with that extra push that will ease her learning.


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