Wednesday, April 13, 2016

How to Speak Parentese

Ever heard of parentese (also known as motherese)? It's a form of baby talk. Now, when I say baby talk, I don't mean the nonsensical babble that people make when encountering infants. Parentese is a type of baby talk that parents use to communicate with their child, using actual words. Parentese uses grammatically correct sentences and pronunciation, but it's the tone and sound of the voice that changes.

Everyone can speak parentese and some may not even be aware that they are doing it. Parentese helps a child learn because parents are able to talk and connect with their child when using the characteristics of parentese. Here are some ways to use parentese when speaking with your child.

  1. High pitched sounds
    • Babies tend to learn best when they hear high pitched sounds because it captures their attention.  This allows parents to engage and interact with their child because they are more likely to listen.
  2. Elongated vowels
    • Elongated words help children learn how to say certain words and they can better distinguish between vowels and consonants. 
  3. Exaggerated facial expressions
    • Babies are drawn to human faces. Seeing different facial expressions will also capture the baby's attention.
  4. Short sentences
    • Keeping sentences short will help babies encode what you are saying to them.
  5. Speak slow
    • Speaking in a slow voice will help your child pick up and comprehend what you are saying. 
  6. Simplicity
    • Use simple words and grammar to help teach your child.
  7. Speak in a sing-song voice
    • Using different tones and melodies to create a sing-song voice will engage your child's attention. This will help your child to become more involved in the conversation. 
  8. Repetition
    • Children learn best from repetition. The more children hear or see something, the more familiar it will become to them. Repeating words or phrases to babies will help them understand what they are hearing.
The next time you speak with your baby try to remember these tips. It will help you to better connect with your child, and to help them learn and grow.

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