Language Acquisition Begins Long Before the First Word

Janet Werker, Estelle IMG_2441.jpg

Dr. Janet Werker, world-renowned for her work in language acquisition, held KIDCARECANADA members spellbound with her talk, “Language Acquisition Begins Long Before the First Word” at our May 27 Annual General Meeting. “Spoken language makes us human. It allows the level of complexity of ideas we can share.” From there, Dr. Werker explained what everyone can do to ensure optimal language acquisition and the benefits to each child of doing this. “Language acquisition begins really, really early!” stressed Dr. Werker. Even babies who cannot hear get the rhythmical characteristics of language in utero through mum’s diaphragm when she speaks. “We now know that babies as young as 6 months understand spoken language and seem to be putting it in categories.”

Dr. Werker’s friendly and approachable explanations belie her remarkable qualifications. To name only a few, she is a Psychology Professor at UBC where she is University Killam Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Psychology, a developmental psychologist, Director of the Infant Studies Centre, and co-Director of the Language Sciences Initiative. In December 2017 Dr. Werker was awarded Officer, Order of Canada, for her “Outstanding achievement. Dedication to the community. Service to the nation.” We at KIDCARECANADA have been direct benefactors of Dr. Werker’s dedication and service since the early days of our work and we heartily thank her for attending our AGM and keeping us enthralled as we learned more about language and how the words in our ABC’s for New Parents book provide helpful guidance for parents.