Language News: Patricia Kuhl at

In this video, linguist Patricia Kuhl discusses the transformation that happens between 8 and 10 months of age as infants learn to “take statistics” from the language they’re exposed to.   Infants, she explains, are different from adults. “We’re culture-bound listeners,” but a 6-8 month old baby can discriminate any sound in any language. 

Dr. Kuhl also discusses new brain imaging techniques, and results of new experiments where 6-8 month old American children of English-speaking parents are exposed to Mandarin under three different conditions (1) only through human contact, (2) only through audio stimuli, and (3) through television. “So what have we done to their little brains?” she asks.  “The social brain is controlling when these babies take these statistics.”  Those who are in contact with human speakers learn the new sounds; the other groups pattern like children who have had no exposure to the new language at all.

Patricia Kuhl: The linguistic genius of babies | Video on


About LingEducator

Dr. Jaclyn Ocumpaugh received a PhD for her dissertation on regional variation in the acoustics of Mexican American English (Michigan State University, East Lansing). Before that, she received an MA in English/Linguistics from North Carolina State University for her work on the acoustics of /r/--a sound which is highly variable in the English language. Her passion, however, has always been to understand the social implications of language variation. In addition to her work in acoustic sociophonetics, she has worked with rape trial analysis, developed cognitive methods for understanding discourse level variation between men and women, and created sophisticated tools for teaching future educators about the kinds of dialect variation they will find in the classroom. She has taught classes in English, Linguistics, and Education at Old Dominion University, William & Mary, the University of Mary Washington, and Virginia Wesleyan College. She is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow of Learning Sciences and Technologies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is helping to develop models of student engagement in the classroom. She also consults in the private sector.
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One Response to Language News: Patricia Kuhl at

  1. Pingback: Classroom Activities: Celebrating International Mother Language Day | The LingEducator Blog

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