Mr Muhamad Faisal Bin Abdul Manap asked the Minister for Education (a) how many local researchers and experts are employed or hired by NUS Infant and Child Language Centre to conduct research and development programmes for Malay and Tamil languages; (b) whether the Centre will recruit locals as part of the plan to expand and enhance its capabilities; (c) whether the Centre has conducted any collaborations and inter-agency work or deployment with other institutions and agencies such as Yayasan Mendaki and the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA); and (d) whether there are plans for other local universities to establish similar research centres in the coming years.
Mr Chan Chun Sing: The NUS Infant and Child Language Centre is a laboratory set up in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences to research into the early childhood learning of languages in Singapore. This laboratory is helmed by one faculty member and two full-time Research Assistants (RAs), and trains about three to four undergraduates in a year. Due to the focus of its research, the RAs and undergraduates working in the laboratory are typically locals.
As part of their research work, the researchers are looking into ways to identify at-risk factors of language delays in Singaporean children learning Malay and Tamil. The researchers had previously collaborated with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) to study how children acquire languages. The research team is open to working with community partners such as Yayasan Mendaki and SINDA, where opportune.
There are other ongoing research projects in the Autonomous Universities in the area of early childhood language development, with an emphasis on Singapore’s multicultural context. For instance, the National Institute of Education (NIE) in the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has research projects covering a range of areas, including the growth in bilingual and biliteracy proficiency of Singaporean children with Chinese, Malay and Tamil language backgrounds, as well as the reading habits and preferences of bilingual children in Singapore.
Ministry of Education
1 August 2022