AS DIRECTOR OF DALLAS’ INternational Small Business Development Center, Beth Sabo Huddleston spends her weekdays helping entrepreneurs link up to the global marketplace and counseling business owners on how to import and export. But on evenings and weekends, Huddleston focuses her time on developing international babies. A mother of three, Huddleston and her partner Karen Yates have created Sound Beginnings, a set of cassette tapes that help develop an infant’s ear for language.
The tapes aren’t meant to teach babies foreign languages but to develop their potential for learning them later. One hurdle to learning language, researchers have found, is that certain sounds don’t exist in certain languages. The V sound, for instance, does not exist in Japanese, so many adult Japanese learning English cannot develop their ability to say it. The tapes flood infant brains with “foreign” sounds during the time that the brain’s neuropath-ways are being developed, thus broadening the child’s linguistic horizons.
Based on the latest research that indicates babies learn to distinguish language sounds between birth and six months of age, the tapes feature soothing female voices speaking in Spanish, French, German, Russian, Hebrew, and Japanese, set to traditional music from each culture. Produced locally, the tapes are sold in specialty stores across the country and in baby product catalogs, (1-800-460-6802) By next year, Huddleston hopes to be a household word-in several different languages.