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LENA for Language Development

Tracking Baby's Words

In Sunday's New York Times Magazine, I came across an interesting piece on baby talk.

Most parents are curious about how their child measures up to the developmental milestones and physical growth charts.

While some parents brag about their tot's precocious behavior, others secretly worry about their lagging babe, especially if the lil one isn't talking much.

To learn what these parents can do about it,


Terrance Paul from Infoture created LENA (language environment analysis) for $400. According to the article:

Terrance Paul's current venture (LENA) was inspired by a well–known study that found that professional parents uttered more than three times as many words to their children as did parents who were on welfare. The children in the less talkative homes turned out to be less verbal and to have smaller vocabularies. Other studies have suggested that these gaps affect later professional success.

LENA is a voice recorder that attaches to the kid's clothing and reportedly assesses children's verbal skills as well as their exposure to verbal stimulation. In the future, they hope the device will also be able to account for speech entropy, which is the adding of new words, phrases or sounds to their skill set.

Critics of the LENA system have legitimate concerns about how words, syntax, and verbal growth can actually be charted using a recorder. Others argue that parents of LENA children will converse more than normal in efforts to better their child's LENA scores. And, some lil ones who may just be slower to mature in dialogue could be identified as "having a problem" when their timing is off in comparison to their peers.

But many agree on one simple idea – the more you speak with your children, the more you provide them the tools and confidence from which their language can evolve.

Tell us, would you buy a LENA if you were concerned with your babe's language development?

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