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LEAP Lab at Nanyang Technological University

(This page is reproduced from original letter)

Dear Parent,

Greetings from LEAP Lab, a research unit at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). I am Luca Onnis the founding director of the lab and a professor in the Linguistics and Multilingual Studies program.

I have partnered with BrainFit to launch the Baby Steps Toward Language project to better understand how infants and toddlers learn to understand language and communicate. Proper multilingual development is a matter of concern to Singaporean parents. While virtually every child in the little red dot learns more than one language, there exist large individual differences in language attainment success, even before children start primary school. When do these differences emerge? And what determines successful pathways to language skills in young children?

I would like to extend a warm invitation to you to participate in this project. We have a few studies that we are running at the moment. Participating children are awarded an NTU certificate and a small gift. A small token of compensation will also be given for your participation in the study. If you are interested in taking part in one or more of these studies please let us know here: (Sign up here)

You can learn more about our research by visiting our Facebook page ( or our website (

We look forward to hearing from you!


Dr. Luca Onnis,
Assistant Professor
Nanyang Technological University
[email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose and benefit of this?

Parental language represents a key determinant in children’s language acquisition and is crucial for the development of other cognitive, social and emotional skills in children. The way you speak to your child matters more than you would think. For this reason we focus on the role of caregiver-child interaction, and investigate how specific linguistic patterns in child-directed speech relates to comprehension and production abilities at the onset of the language production burst, which occurs at around 24 months. Knowing what type of language exposure is of relevance in multilingual Singapore, where children may receive different types of linguistic experience from grandparents, nannies, and multilingual parents. Is there an optimal multilingual equilibrium that fosters language development, and, conversely, are there dimensions of parental language that slow down development?

What is the research going to be used for?

Our studies will most likely be published in academic journals or conferences on child development. These results will be used to extend our current understanding of infant learning of language, and potentially inform parents and educators on how to speak to children to sustain their discovery of language.

How will my child's data be kept confidential?

All our studies have been approved by the ethics board in NTU and your child’s data will be kept confidential in accordance to its stringent policies. Only group results are published, and no information about individual babies is released in any manner. Only the Principal Investigator and his/her representative (i.e. research assistant) will have access to the data, which are not released to unauthorised persons.

Can I stay with my baby during the course of the study?

Yes of course! Your child will be comfortably seated on your lap, or that of an appointed guardian, for the entire duration of the study.

What if my baby gets upset or fussy?

Your child’s comfort is of utmost importance to us. Should your child be fussy during the study, we can take a short break and resume the session when your child is more comfortable. Alternatively, we can terminate the session immediately and discard the collected data.