In most circumstances, a child’s parents are the ones who teach the child how to speak. The process might seem simple, but it can be challenging for Hispanic parents trying to teach their children Spanish when living in English-speaking countries likes the US. They face pressure to focus more on English.
Melissa Baralt, Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics and Natalie Brito, Assistant Professor of Applied Psychology at NYU both developed a mobile app, Háblame Bebé, which helps parents teach their children both English and Spanish, emphasizing bilingual language development.
“Not only does Háblame Bebé empower parents with accurate information about bilingual language development, but it reminds them that having a solid foundation in Spanish leads to better language outcomes for the child in both English and Spanish. Hearing native speech sounds is best for early brain development and developing language skills,” Brito said.
Háblame Bebé trains parents to use evidence-based strategies in their heritage language. In the app users can access a developmental milestone checklist to monitor the child’s learning. It can also be shared with the child’s pediatrician.
Brito and Baralt collaborated with “Talk with Me Baby,” an initiative that works to teach the concept of language nutrition and educate caregivers about the importance of talking to their baby everyday to close the “word gap.”