Question Sheet: Babies Prove Sound Learners


Before reading:

  1. How do babies learn to talk?
  2. Is learning a new language hard for you? What makes it easy or difficult?
  3. Why might it be challenging to study how babies learn to speak?

During reading:

  1. What happens in the brains of babies as they progress from making sounds to

    speaking words?

  2. What strategies does Kuhl use to study whether babies can tell the

    difference between sounds?

  3. Why does Kuhl call babies “citizens of the world?”
  4. How does age affect the way electrical pathways form in the brain?
  5. How does a bilingual child’s brain differ from the brain of a child who

    learns just one language?

  6. How might studying the brains of babies change the way we teach new

    languages to adults?

After reading:

  1. If a group of students learns a new language at the same time, say around

    age 12, why might some students pick up the new language more easily than

    others? Use information from the article to back up your argument.

  2. Come up with another experiment that would use electrode caps. Why would the

    caps be necessary for your project?

  3. Name some of the challenges involved in studying babies that scientists

    don’t usually have to worry about when studying adults?

  4. Do babies that live in other countries make the same sounds as babies that

    live in the United States? Why or why not?

  5. Around the world, people who speak English use many different accents. Is

    changing your accent as hard as learning a new language? Why or why not?

  6. Why do you think the first word that many children speak is the equivalent

    of “Mama” or “Papa”?


  1. Name three countries where most people speak more than one language.
  2. Name three countries where most people speak just one language.


  1. Write a letter to your school suggesting changes to the way new languages

    are taught.

  2. Should the United States officially be a bilingual country? Argue for or

    against the inclusion of Spanish language education in American schools.