Languages come from the social context of Interaction!

From Birth, Engage Your Child With Talk
Published: September 28, 2009

One, a former Spanish teacher, speaks to her three little boys only in Spanish; her husband and almost everyone else in their lives speak to them in English. The oldest, now 3, is fluently bilingual and readily translates into English what has been said to him in Spanish. If I ask him something in Spanish, he responds to me in English (he quickly recognized my limits with Spanish) and even corrects my mispronunciations of Spanish words.

So much for the notion that learning two languages simultaneously delays a child’s language development.

How Are Humans Unique?
Published: May 25, 2008

You might think that human beings at least enjoy the advantage of being more generally intelligent. To test this idea, my colleagues and I recently administered an array of cognitive tests — the equivalent of nonverbal I.Q. tests — to adult chimpanzees and orangutans (two of our closest primate relatives) and to 2-year-old human children. As it turned out, the children were not more skillful overall. They performed about the same as the apes on the tests that measured how well they understood the physical world of space, quantities and causality. The children performed better only on tests that measured social skills: social learning, communicating and reading the intentions of others.

But such social gifts make all the difference.