Monday, September 4, 2017

Deux in one! Krista Byers-Heinlein on how bilingual babies comprehend two languages.

We all have a dream to learn that foreign language. Could be French for your love of Paris or French cuisine. Or could be Japanese because of the anime industry. But, its really tough! Isn't it? However, millions of bilingual kids do this so effortlessly. How are they able to achieve this feat, which so many of us find so demanding.

Krista and colleagues study language comprehension in kids to understand how they make sense of a bilingual world. They wanted to know how kids monitor the language they are spoken to. Interestingly, they found an 'expectation' for one language within a single sentence. This suggested that kids efficiently parse information that helps them comprehend and learn multiple languages at the same time. To know more, please listen to Krista.

To know more, please refer to:
Bilingual infants control their languages as they listen
Krista Byers-Heinlein et al., PNAS, 2017   


  1. Interesting work and interesting topic overall. I wonder what how bilinguals who became bilingual in adulthood would compare to 'born and raised' bilinguals in these tasks. Another interesting group would be people who actively mix two languages in one sentence (e.g., common among Dominicans in New York City).

    1. Thanks for your kind reply and interest :)
      The two groups you raise was surely intriguing. I am sure the author's previous work might have something on this line (, and if not she might be a good person to guide you towards fulfilling your curiosities :)