Below are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding VOCS.

What is the goal of this research project?

In addition to knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, part of an individual’s competence in their language is their understanding of how different types of people are likely to speak, and what is an appropriate way to speak in different situations. This type of information is called “sociolinguistic knowledge.” Our project investigates how children in Singapore gain sociolinguistic knowledge about English and Mandarin depending on their home and school language environments, and how this relates to their own developing language use patterns.

What is involved if I agree to participate?

If you are interested in participating, the first step is to fill out the information form. A researcher will then contact you by your preferred method and determine whether you wish to have a researcher come to your home or whether you would rather bring your child in to the NUS linguistics experimental lab on our Kent Ridge campus.

The session itself will last approximately one hour total. Parents will first be presented with the consent form and the structure of the session will be explained. Parents will then be given the language background questionnaire to complete while their child is participating in the session, which will be conducted one-on-one with the researcher.

The research session will involve your child listening to audio clips presented in the form of a game, then reading a word list and a passage, and then chatting with the interviewer about the child’s daily life. This session will be audio recorded for later linguistic analysis. The researcher will also conduct the Pearson expressive vocabulary assessment with your child, which involves describing pictures. Your child will receive five minute breaks between activities, and it will be clearly explained that your child may voluntarily stop participation for any reason at any point during the session, and all data from the session will be discarded.

Upon completion of the session, your child will receive a small gift (for example, stickers). The researcher will check whether you had any questions regarding the language background questionnaire and, if relevant, reimburse you for any travel costs. You will be contacted later with the results of your child’s vocabulary assessment.

Parents will also be contacted regarding whether they wish to conduct an interview with the primary investigator to share their experiences raising children in Singapore with regard to language issues. These interviews will help us better understand how families in Singapore view language diversity and development. Participating in such an interview is optional, and may be conducted over email or in person.


What type of space is required if I have the session conducted in my home?

We will need a quiet space free from distractions to conduct the study session. As the session will involve audio recording and listening to audio clips, we prefer to conduct the session in as quiet a room as possible so that your child can concentrate and the recordings will be clear.

Where is the NUS linguistics experimental lab located?

The lab is located on the second floor in building AS5, at 7 Arts Link on the NUS Kent Ridge campus.

What type of vocabulary assessment is performed in this study?

We are using the Pearson expressive vocabulary test, which assesses an individual’s production of English vocabulary words. The test involves looking at and describing pictures, and takes 10-20 minutes to complete. If you have participated in a previous study at the NUS Infant Language Lab, please note that our assessment is the expressive test, not the receptive (comprehension-based) vocabulary test conducted by our colleagues at the other lab. More information on the expressive vocabulary test is available here.

Who will interview my child at the research session?

Your child’s session will be administered by a native Singaporean research assistant. All assistants are students currently attending NUS who have been trained by the Principal Investigator.

Who is the head of this research project?

The Principal Investigator of this project is Dr. Rebecca Starr. You may contact her at rstarr@nus.edu.sg.

Will we be reimbursed for our participation?

There is no reimbursement for participation in this study. Children will each receive a small gift. Parents will also receive the results of their child’s expressive vocabulary assessment. Families may be reimbursed for travel expenses (up to $50 for a round trip) if they are tested at NUS campus.

 Is this an anonymous study?

All of your and your child’s personal information will be kept strictly confidential. Audio recorded data will be identified only by alphanumeric code; only the primary investigator and designated researchers will have access to personally identifying information such as names. All findings of this research, including both child studies and parent interviews, will be presented anonymously.

Where can I find more information?

Please view the Participant Information Sheet and Consent Form for further information regarding this research project. If you have further questions, you may contact Dr. Rebecca Starr at rstarr@nus.edu.sg.