Welcome!

Welcome to the Infant and Child Language Centre at NUS!

Milan 2072The Infant and Child Language Centre is housed in the Department of Psychology, National University of Singapore (NUS). At the Infant Language Centre, we are dedicated to develop our understanding of how babies learn their first words.

Learning one’s native language is a phenomenal achievement. At a minimum, it requires that learners make sense of an immensely complex system. How do children master a system that is so complicated and sophisticated long before they can tie their shoelaces or ride a bicycle?

The Infant and Child Language Centre at NUS is investigating the origins of language learning. How do babies begin the process of language learning? What happens in the mind of an infant to enable the first words, phrases and sentences that babies begin to produce?

As parents often observe, children have an interest in language and a capacity to communicate, months before they start to speak. Our research seeks to identify these early abilities. The better we understand how babies learn to speak, the better able we are to help them do so successfully!

Find out more!

Here are some findings from Infant Language Laboratories:

Infants learn to recognize their own names by 5 months of age. For more information, see http://www.pediatricservices.com/parents/pc-32.htm

Infants first begin to attach meaning to words at 6 months. Which words do they understand first? To find out more, please see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/02/990216135800.htm

Unlike adults, newborn infants can discriminate sounds that might appear in any of the world’s languages. Between 6 and10 months, they begin to ‘specialize’ in their own language and like adults, begin to discriminate only those sounds that appear in their own language. For more information, see http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/youth/jan-june97/brain_5-29.html

Infants can segment speech into words by 8 months. This is an incredibly difficult task, as speech, unlike writing, does not contain pauses between words. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the young listener to figure out where words begin and end before he or she can begin to learn what these words might mean. How is this accomplished? To find out more, see http://whyfiles.org/058language/baby_talk.html