VANESSA CHUA is only 10 months old, but she can recognise words and act them out.
It is no mean feat, as infants normally do that only when they turn three, according to Ms Jolleen, a teacher at Keeplaygroup.
Vanessa's achievement comes from a television diet of learning DVDs created by Dr Robert Titzer, an infant learning expert from the United States.
The infant researcher and teacher of over 15 years has appeared on more than one thousand television shows including CNN and MSNBC.
Dr Titzer is in town this week for a workshop.
Speaking to my paper yesterday, the 47-year-old said that infants should be exposed to words as early as in their second and third month - at the time when they get visual tracking.
"There is a window of opportunity for learning languages - written and spoken - for babies, which begins to close by age four," he said.
"Infants have tens of thousands of new brain connectors forming every single second. I don't think it's a good idea to wait until they're older."
Dr Titzer will be conducting his workshop on Friday at 10am at the Island Cafe at Tangs Orchard. Starting early also helps children in their later education, he said.
His own daughters are proof, Dr Titzer added. For example, the older one, 17-year-old Aleka, is three years ahead of her peers and is currently enrolled in a top US university.
His videos feature children performing an action while the word is shown and read. Over 100,000 copies have been sold since its debut in Singapore six years ago - in the VCD format.
The DVD format, launched last year, is now available in major departmental stores here. It costs $99.90 for each box set of five DVDs.
For Vanessa's parents, the videos were merely a source of entertainment to keep her occupied initially.
"She's normally a very active baby, but when she watches the video, she'll be quiet and concentrate for the full 20 minutes," said her homemaker mother Mrs Joyce Chua, 32.
Then, two months ago, Mrs Chua noticed her firstborn shaking her hands in response to the word "shake". Now, Vanessa reacts accordingly when she sees the words "clap", "tongue" and "mouth", among others.
Babies who learn two languages, as is common here, may take at least six months longer to master a language, said Dr Titzer.
However, this delay can be overcome if parents keep talking to their babies from the baby's perspective - describing what he or she is hearing, smelling, touching or tasting.
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