Birth-Language Memory As a speech-language pathologist and adoptive mother, I enjoyed your recent article “Adoptees May Unknowingly Tap Into Memory of Birth Language” (May 2017). My daughter was adopted on April 17, 1989 (her 8-month birthday), in Bogotá, Colombia. We were told that she had two words in Spanish and it was ... Inbox
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Inbox  |   July 01, 2017
Birth-Language Memory
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Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Inbox
Inbox   |   July 01, 2017
Birth-Language Memory
The ASHA Leader, July 2017, Vol. 22, 4. doi:10.1044/leader.IN2.22072017.4
The ASHA Leader, July 2017, Vol. 22, 4. doi:10.1044/leader.IN2.22072017.4
As a speech-language pathologist and adoptive mother, I enjoyed your recent article “Adoptees May Unknowingly Tap Into Memory of Birth Language” (May 2017). My daughter was adopted on April 17, 1989 (her 8-month birthday), in Bogotá, Colombia. We were told that she had two words in Spanish and it was very clear that she understood much of the language. She quickly picked up English but continued to be exposed to Spanish through neighbors, friends and in Spanish classes at school.
At the end of her first Spanish class in her freshman year of high school, the teacher asked where she was from. When she answered, “Maine,” he said, “No, where were you born?” When she told him Colombia, he asked if she had been born in Bogotá. When she told him yes, he said that his grandparents were Colombian and he had spent most of his childhood summers in Bogotá. He said she spoke Spanish with an accent similar to those from Bogotá—and not, like her schoolmates, with an American accent. She was thrilled and this teacher became a wonderful mentor.
It made sense to me that she would have retained some knowledge of her first language, even though she could not recall knowing it. She has since visited Bogotá and much of Central America, and during these trips people were not able to immediately pick her out as American. Thanks for the article. I will be sharing it with my daughter.
Eileen O’Connell, Mashpee, Massachusetts

Thank you for sharing this story. It certainly seems in line with this research finding.

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July 2017
Volume 22, Issue 7