You may have heard that it’s incredibly easy for children to learn languages. But do you know how they actually do it? How does a child go from cries and coos to expressing their desires and build all of that up to engage in profound dialogue later in life?

According to psychological scientists, how a child picks up language encompasses holisticism and is dependent on these three main factors:

  • The amount of language they are exposed to

  • Their time spent in back and forth language interactions

  • Physical connections with their environment

The last one probably came as a surprise to you, but yes, scientific research is only now catching up to reveal what we as human beings have inherently known for millenia; using our physical body plays an indispensable role in the development of our cerebral and linguistic capacities.


As a mother and multilingual educator myself, I have seen the impact of this first hand, through the rapid development of my son’s linguistic and motor skills, that are expanding faster than we can keep up with!


At just 6 weeks of age, he already began mimicking certain sounds and engaging with us in dialogue using his baby language. He would respond differently to when he is being spoken to in English, Latvian or Spanish; the main languages of his environment.


As digital nomads and entrepreneurs, he is with us 24/7 meaning he hears my multilingual conversations on a daily basis, my partner and I have constant dialogues with him and continuously expose him to new environments such as taking him to the beach, spending time in nature, in the garden and going out on daily walks around our neighbourhood.


THE ROLE OF TOUCH


We think of children soaking up words like being sponges. And if it is indeed a sponge that they are touching, chances are high this will be the next word getting added to their vocabulary.


Why?


Objects that children can hold and interact with physically on their own are learned more earlier than vocabulary for abstract ideas and concepts.


One study in the cognitive sciences explored this by looking at how children learn words based on items that can be touched and interacted with by the child. Parents were asked to rate how easily their little one could physically interact with the object, idea or experience that the word referenced. The results showed that the words that refer to objects easy for children to interact with were also the very words they learned at an earlier age. *


For example, even though the words spoon and sky are both part of common, everyday vocabulary, spoon is usually learned earlier because it is something the child can explore with their body whereas sky is not.

WHY PHYSICAL EXPERIENCE MATTERS

Did you know that whether it is the child holding the object or the parent changes the entire experience?


I notice the different responses in my son when we walk around the garden and he touches the leaves as I teach him what the Latvian word for “leaf” is. He is more alert and receptive in his responses compared to if I were to simply speak to him about the garden without any direct stimulation from the environment around him.

Across multiple studies, children were equipped with body cameras to allow researchers to view the environment exactly as the child would.


What they found in one study was that 18-month-old toddlers were more likely to learn the name of a new object when they held it and less likely to learn the name if it was held by their parent. Another study showed that 15-month-olds who spent more time manipulating new objects had learned more nouns by the time they were 21 months old.


And it makes sense why children learn the names of objects they get to touch sooner than others. At any given time, there are many different objects in a child's vision. When a parent names a particular object, it is a lot more difficult for the child to know what the parent is talking about. However, when children are holding or touching a specific object, that object is much closer to them and fills more of their vision, making it easier for them to connect the word the parent has used with the object they see.*

INTERACTION


Physically connecting with an object makes it easier to identify its meaning and the letters or spoken sounds of the word. A recent study found this to be true with children in grades two and four, who were able to read and recognise the words for objects that were easy to interact with much more effectively than others.


“The children recognized the words with higher 'Body Object Interaction' (BOI) ratings at higher accuracy rates and higher response speeds more than the words with lower BOI ratings, showing a BOI effect.”


The key element here is real life, physical interaction. It is not the same if children are interacting with something on a screen. Children who had more screen time per day were found to not be as fast or accurate in their responses.


“This is because increased screen time may reduce the quantity and quality of physical experiences that children have with objects in their environment.”*


Of course children will come to learn words for concepts that are abstract and intangible, such as sky, however research shows that it can be of great benefit to give children opportunities to have sensory play to help advance their vocabularies.


Through touching, grasping and interacting children develop not only their motor skills, but as exemplified in the various studies mentioned above, physical experience is just as important for a child to acquire new words and develop their language skills.


This is why the holistic learning approach is so important; because it takes advantage of all elements of your being, thereby enhancing your capacity to learn whilst simultaneously improving your overall wellbeing.


This is great news because it means learning can literally take place anywhere with anything (provided it is safe of course) that is in your immediate environment!


No matter your current situation, this holistic learning approach to enhanced language acquisition can be applied to your child’s development. As we take education beyond the industrial and technological revolution, let’s craft a future for our children that includes all their faculties while simultaneously enhancing their wellbeing.


Let’s connect the world through holistic education.


If you would like to know more about holistic language learning and how to connect with your child deeper through language, you can connect with me via lina@lina-vasquez.com, Instagram, LinkedIn or visit my Website.

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Lina Vasquez is a Holistic Learning Coach, Polyglot, YouTuber and Co-Founder of A Life OnPurpose & LVL Holistic Learning. Her work seeks to revolutionise the education sector by fostering deep, holistic, human connection on a global level; doing so in 7 languages.

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References:

1. Chen Yu, Linda B. Smith, Embodied attention and word learning by toddlers, Cognition, Volume 125, Issue 2, 2012, Pages 244-262, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2012.06.016.


2. Romeo RR, Leonard JA, Robinson ST, et al. Beyond the 30-Million-Word Gap: Children’s Conversational Exposure Is Associated With Language-Related Brain Function. Psychological Science. 2018;29(5):700-710. doi:10.1177/0956797617742725


3. Xu, Z., Liu, D. Body–object interaction effect in word recognition and its relationship with screen time in Chinese children. Read Writ(2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-021-10238-2

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Do you find you often assume the outcome of something before you have even taken the action?


For example, you want to contact someone you'd love to work with. But before you have even taken the first step, your mind has already jumped to thoughts like:

  • why they might not reply

  • you should drop it, it's going to take so long to write up a proposal and what if it's all for nothing?

  • what you need to do have in place before you reach out

  • they may say no

Why is it that even when we have all of the information and ability to take an action we are excited about... negative thoughts still get in the way?


You know somewhere in your mind that these thoughts aren't actually real. There are so many potentialities, positive ones too, yet why is it so hard to move past these? They show up and often times, lead us to self-sabotage and miss out on deeply enriching opportunities in our lives, all because we took these automatic negative thoughts as truth and didn't know how to manage them.


If you've ever unsuccessfully coached yourself in such moments and tried to sprinkle a set of positive comebacks at that negativity, here's why it doesn't work:


We can’t talk, research or think our way out of negative thought patterns.


You can't fight thought with thought.


We don't take action based on what we know, we take action based on how we feel.


Although there are some nuances between what it means to have a feeling and an emotion, don’t get bogged down in the rhetoric of these terms.


The most important thing is to first understand yourself. Whatever is happening inside of you needs to be understood by you! Even if you happen to go through therapy or counselling, no one will ever truly be able to tell you about what you’re experiencing within.


This is a journey that we all have to navigate for ourselves. And finding a way to connect and influence your own feelings at any given moment is a good place to start.


It should become obvious over time that information is not enough for you to resolve the negative thoughts that stop you from going after your dreams. Because if it were true that information alone was sufficient, this is something every one would have mastered already, — by reading more books or doing more research, right? So there must be something else.


We need to connect with our emotions if we wish to transform our behaviour and attitude towards a challenge such as this one.

Our entire system of education is in some ways a psychological trap that leads us to believe that the answers to our most important questions lie outside of ourselves.


Get Curious


One place to start is getting curious about the stories that show up in these moments. Our brain is just trying to protect us from danger. Anything uncomfortable and unknown sends of alarm bells and so, fear-based feelings and thoughts show up. It's pretty normal. Once I understood this, I was able to influence my mindset a little better.


"Hey brain, I know you're only trying to protect me because this is something new.

It's okay, I see you. Let's do it anyway."


Visualise How You Want to Feel


To get into flow, taking the time to visualise exactly how you wish to feel in the process is an instant way to connect to your emotions.


A key thing here, notice I didn't say to visualise the outcome you wish to create. While sometimes this can be motivating, you can't actually control the outcome no matter what you do which could lead to greater disappointment, and we're back where we started. So why not focus on what you can actually control, which is you and the input that goes into the next step.


Did you know your brain can't distinguish the difference between something real and something imagined? Now imagine if every time you had a limiting belief show up, you replaced it with strong thoughts, images and feelings of the reality you actually wanted. How much would that shift your life and your character over time?


Learn a Spiritual Practice


To transform this in the long term, we must go through the process of unlearning. Learning a spiritual practice that allows you to connect with something beyond your mind and body is one of the best ways to do so. One year ago, I got serious about yoga and meditation and not the 15-min yoga sequences you see on YouTube. The practices I do now are simple, few and profound and started off with me just sitting in silence for 5-min in the beginning. If you're interested in finding out more, send me a message!


Mantras


Journaling and developing mantras for yourself are a great way to rewire the neurological pathways in our brain and implement new thinking patterns that serve rather than limit us.

A key thing is, they actually need to resonate with you emotionally. Quality over quantity!


Here are some that have been helpful for me when I find myself getting too caught up in overthinking and over-preparing:

  • Everything meant for me will always find its way to me.

  • The possibilities for me are endless!

  • My brain is only trying to protect me, thank you, I see you. Now let’s do this!

By practicing these consistently, over time, your subconscious will start to replace these automatic negative thoughts with empowering ones!


Enjoyed this article?


Share it with a friend who you think would love it too and do reach out -- I'd love to hear your story and what resonated most with you from this article!


Lina


Lina Vasquez is a Holistic Learning Coach, YouTuber and Co-Founder of A Life OnPurpose & LVL Holistic Learning. Her work seeks to revolutionise the education sector by fostering deep, holistic, human connection on a global level; doing so in 7 languages.


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At the beginning of my pregnancy, I made a deep commitment to myself…

Paola Calles Photography


With an unequivocal fierceness, I was going to trust myself and my intuition FULLY – with every single decision I faced. This is something that has always been quite challenging for me to do.


I knew that the woman who would birth my child and the woman I was in the present moment would not be the same person.


How could she be?


How can this person who stood before me in the mirror remain unshaken after the process of childbirth?


Going from a maiden to a mother, almost every day, challenges to my boundaries presented themselves. Each sphere of my life began to drip out that stale, non-serving energy; begging for a deep rejuvenation.


A birth was coming; physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. The path of my growth was not ending. I had been blessed with new challenges that would mould me into a higher state of consciousness.


Have you ever found it difficult to trust your inner voice? Especially when you know that standing up for yourself will displease the other person or cause a conflict?

🚨 DISCOMFORT ALERT 🚨


I can’t count the amount of times in my pregnancy I heard the following:


  • Aren’t you scared of the birth?

  • Are you nervous?

  • Wait, you’re moving to Mexico mid-way through pregnancy?

  • Better sleep as much as you can now, because when the baby comes….


These were just a few.


What would have happened to my state if I had let these questions consume me?


If I, even for a second, tapped into the energy of nervousness or fear?


How would that benefit me?


That is why it is so vital to find a way to protect yourself from the limitations of others. They have no meaning until you allow them to.


“You can’t get advice from someone else about how to live your life.”

Even before I got pregnant, through my spiritual journey, I began creating a sacred place internally that was protected from the influence of others. I had begun my quest with the map of Sadhana (ego-transcending spiritual practice).


I was not afraid at any point of the process of giving birth and going into labour and avoided reading any stories or material that would send my mind in another direction. This was key to overcoming the limitations of external influences.


I had created a barrier between what I chose to be and what I was told I should be.

The freedom I experienced from this cannot be measured!


I knew with dead-set certainty that I was going to have a beautiful, unmedicated birth; relying solely on my breath and body; that they would know what to do when the time came. I had found a path to tranquility through the breath and trust in my body. The result is I now have power over my faculties, peace in my mind, connection with my body, and peace within. None of these things were given to me by anyone. Therefore no one can ever take this from me.


I worked out every single day and didn’t let fears like “what if I hurt the baby” or “something could go wrong” get in my way. I became the champion of my decisions and let my heart lead me to salvation.

pregnant woman fitness


I committed to my spiritual & yogic practice every single day both by myself and with my partner to send a positive frequency to the baby. And, as each week passed, even my doctor was astounded at the level of my health and physical fitness with no usual symptoms like swelling, cramping, fatigue etc.


The people at my gym were astounded at a 39-week pregnant woman coming in every few days, working out on the elliptical next to them and even my clients still couldn’t fully believe I was that far along in my pregnancy as I worked until the day I gave birth.


(Of course it wasn't all easy-breezy; the aches and pains of a growing baby and those beautiful kicks added some spice right as I was going to sleep every night 😉).


But, because of my commitment to protecting my thoughts and emotions from outside influence as well as taking care of my health and fitness, I had the most beautiful pregnancy and birth imaginable. After 19 hours of labour, I gave birth to a gorgeous, healthy and strong baby. All without any anaesthesia or medication and absolutely no scarring or tearing whatsoever. The next day I was already home, back to my yoga practice, going for a walk with my hubby and baby.


And this is how the story begins. This is not the end, it’s only the beginning. This birth gives true meaning to the word commencement.


My life is now a trajectory that goes beyond any boundaries set by others.



Lina Vasquez is a Holistic Learning Coach, YouTuber and Co-Founder of A Life OnPurpose & LVL Holistic Learning. Her work seeks to revolutionise the education sector by fostering deep, holistic, human connection on a global level; doing so in 7 languages.


If you are a new or expecting mother and would like to find out more about these holistic practices and how to incorporate them into your life, connect with Lina HERE.



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