The Voices of Children in Singapore project

As children grow up in a community, they learn a great deal about the language patterns around them; they gain an understanding of who is likely to speak in what way, and how to use language appropriately in different situations. In the diverse landscape of Singapore, children are not only exposed to the languages and dialects of various communities of Singaporeans, but also to the language use of transnational migrants from a diverse set of countries. These migrants bring with them distinctive ways of speaking English and, in many cases, Mandarin. What do Singaporean children, and the children of expatriates growing up in Singapore, learn about the different varieties of English and Mandarin they encounter here? And how does this shape the way that they come to use these languages?

The Voices of Children in Singapore project, led by Dr. Rebecca Lurie Starr, investigates the sociolinguistic development of local and expatriate children in Singapore, focusing on English and Mandarin. The project, which has collected data from over one hundred children thus far, examines children's social evaluation, meaning what they think about different varieties of English and Mandarin, their language production in various contexts, and their language development. The project hopes to draw conclusions relating to children's sociolinguistic development, the social development and identity construction of expatriate children, and the evolving patterns of English and Mandarin as they are used in Singapore. Initial findings from the project have been published in the journal Language in Society: "Third culture kids in the outer circle: The development of sociolinguistic knowledge among local and expatriate children in Singapore." Results have also been presented at various international conferences, including the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, New Ways of Analyzing Variation, and Variation in Language Acquisition. For more information, please see the project website: