News Brief: Adoptees Retain Subconscious Knowledge of Birth Language

A new study has found that adoptees retain a subconscious knowledge of their birth language and may be able to learn the language more quickly as adults.

Adoptees may retain subconscious knowledge of birth language

Humans retain subconscious knowledge of the first language they hear as infants, found a new study involving Korean adoptees raised by Dutch families. This does not mean that an adult adoptee will be able to understand or speak her birth language when hearing it for the first time in years, but that she may have an easier time learning the language.

In addition to the benefits for adoptees who wish to learn their birth language, lead researcher Jiyoun Choi, Ph.D., stressed a practical message for parents: “The language learning process occurs very early in life, and useful language knowledge is laid down in the very early months of life as our study suggests. Try to talk to your babies as much as possible because they are absorbing and digesting what you are saying.”

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