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Babies’ brains show that social skills linked to second language learning

Babies learn language best by interacting with people rather than passively through a video or audio recording. But it’s been unclear what aspects of social interactions make them so important for learning. New findings demonstrate for the first time that an early social behavior called gaze shifting is linked to infants’ ability to learn new language sounds. Gaze shifting is when a baby makes eye contact and then looks at the same object that the other person is looking at. It is one of the earliest social skills that babies show. Babies about 10 months old who engaged in more gaze shifting during sessions with a foreign language tutor showed a boost in a brain response that indicates language learning, according to the study.

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