One of the most intriguing phenomena in bilingualism is how infants who acquire two or more languages from birth manage to discriminate and separate their languages.
They have to distinguish and differentiate the spoken input they perceive into distinct languages.
How do they do it, we keep asking ourselves. Professor Janet Werker of the University of British Columbia is known the world over for her work on the perception of speech by bilingual infants. She has been one of the pioneers of research on language discrimination and separation, among other domains, and she has very kindly accepted to answer a few of our questions.
Werker, J. F. & Byers-Heinlein, K. (2008). Bilingualism in infancy: First steps in perception and comprehension. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12(4), 144-151.
Kandhadai, P., Danielson, D. K. & Werker, J. F. (2014). Culture as a binder for bilingual acquisition. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 3, 24-27.