One of the best parts of raising kiddos in Singapore is the opportunity to expose them to a variety of cultures and languages; few places in the world put munchkins in a better position to grow up bilingual, even if only one language is spoken at home.
Scientists are constantly making new discoveries about how children and babies learn language. Here in Singapore, Nanyang Technological University has just opened the LEAP (Language, Evolution, Acquisition and Plasticity) Lab, a state-of-the-art infant research facility that aims to help parents promote better language learning practices in the home. And they want YOU and your little ones to be a part of their trailblazing research!
“Language is a uniquely human cognitive skill, and children’s abilities to learn are wonderful and unparalleled”, says LEAP Lab Director, Professor Luca Onnis. “In a few years they acquire sophisticated skills to understand and speak one or more languages, opening up a world of opportunities for socialization and enculturation. Yet not all children develop language skills in the same way and with similar outcomes. Substantial differences in language abilities appear to emerge as early as the first 12 months of a child’s life.
“Furthermore, toddlers’ facility with language at age three is a good predictor of how well they perform in school at ages nine or ten. Thus, it becomes important to find out what determines individual developmental trajectories of language in infants before they even start to speak.”
The LEAP Lab is currently conducting two studies for children and babies ranging in age from 6 months to 3 years old. With a focus on the role of caregiver-child interaction (the way you speak to your child matters more than you think, mama!), they’re also investigating whether there’s an optimal multilingual equilibrium that fosters little ones’ language development — certainly a hot-button topic here in Singers!
Studies employ behavioral methods and require fun, simple activities for littlies like watching a puppet show or listening to a story. Participation in some studies can even be done online! Afterwards your munchkin will receive a certificate and small gift, and your transport costs to the lab will even be reimbursed up to $50.