New Light Shed On How Children Learn to Speak
Researchers have discovered that children under the age of two control speech using a different strategy than previously thought.
During the study at Queen’s University, the researchers changed the vowel sounds that the participants heard over headphones as they talked. They found that while the adults and young children changed their vowel sounds in response to this altered feedback, the toddlers did not.
“We were very surprised to find that the two-year-olds do not monitor their own voice when speaking in the same way as adults do,” says Ewen MacDonald, a former Queen’s research associate and now associate professor at the Technical University of Denmark. “As they play music, violinists will listen to the notes they produce to ensure they are in tune. If they aren’t, they will adjust the position of their fingers to bring the notes back in tune. When we speak, we do something very similar. We subconsciously listen to vowel and consonant sounds in our speech to ensure we are producing them correctly.”
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