New research shows that babies learning two languages lip read more than infants who are only spoken to in one language. Bilingual infants lip-read more than monolingual infants.
The study was conducted by Northeastern developmental psychologist David J. Lewkowicz. Bilingual and monolingual infants watched a video of a woman speaking in Spanish or Catalan. The babies were learning one or both of these languages.
The researchers found that bilingual infants at an earlier age focused attention on the mouth for longer periods of time than monolingual infants. The suggestion is that bilingual babies can discern audiovisual speech better than monolingual infants. This is because they are distinguishing between the two languages they are learning at the same time.
“These results provide new insights into the underlying mechanisms of people’s ability to acquire more than one language at the same time early in life,” said Lewkowicz, a professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in Northeastern’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences.