According to a new study from the University of Toronto toddlers and small children have a much better comprehension of foreign and unknown accents than previously thought, or, in short: baby-talking to toddlers and small children might not be needed after all.

“Fifteen-month-olds typically say relatively few words, yet they can learn to understand someone with a completely unfamiliar accent. This shows that infants’ language comprehension abilities are surprisingly sophisticated,” according to UofT associate Psychology professor Elizabeth K. Johnson.

This means that adults speaking to a child in Australian English, American English, or British English can be understood fairly quickly by youngsters, even if the children themselves don’t say too much yet, possessing similar understanding skills to adults who take longer to fully comprehend accents.

The findings are based on two studied recently published in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General and in Language Learning and Development.


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