Children learn about sentences, rhymes, and rhythm in songs and rhymes

Soon children are told all kinds of rhymes and songs through their parents and caregivers. In this way, young children are exposed to the language and the patterns in which it is spoken in a playful way. For example, they can hear words, but also whole sentences. Words at the end of a sentence can rhyme. In addition, there is often rhythm in songs and rhymes, for example alternating between stressed and unstressed syllables. It has been known for some time that recognition of rhyme, rhythm, and sentences in young children’s spoken language contributes to language understanding and production.

But do children recognize these language patterns when they hear these patterns in songs and rhymes? Linguist Laura Hahn recently received her Ph.D. in the subject from Radboud University Nijmegen. “When we talk to kids, we do it in a specific way,” Han explains. We’ll talk a little more lavish then. That would be too Speech directed at infants mentioned. It is beneficial for parents and caregivers to do this, as it stimulates the language development of children. I wondered if you zoom in on that light sound and then get to songs and rhymes, the effect is bigger too. Her research shows that children recognized language patterns in songs and rhymes, but did not react to them more strongly than they did to language patterns in normal spoken language. So the most important finding at the moment is that children are actually able to recognize patterns of language in songs and rhymes.

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To reach this conclusion, Han investigated, among other things, whether young children could recognize the phrases in the song. We learn about sentences because we often slow down at the end of a sentence, lower our tone of voice and let a little silence fall before moving on to the next sentence. Han had six-month-olds who listened to songs with complete sentences and songs with the same word sequence, but not sung like sentences. Children stayed longer to listen to songs with complete sentences.

Ten-month-old children were also shown non-rhythmic and non-rhythmic poems and songs. Here, Han not only looked at how long the children listened to songs and rhymes, but also checked their brain activity using an electroencephalogram (EEG). Watching time and brain signals showed that children recognize rhyme and rhythm in songs and rhymes.

“It is possible to enhance the language development of very young children by singing and rhyming together,” Han says. “Children with language delays or hearing impairments, or children who will learn more than one mother language will particularly benefit from this.”

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