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The Word Gap


This is a good example of doing research through a deficit-based lens.

Research done in the 90s indicated that children from disadvantaged communities entered school with an auditory vocabulary of 25,000-3,000 words. Children from less stressed communities entered school with an auditory vocabulary in excess of 50,000 words. It is not the words - it is the scaffolding of language development that occurs when adults engage young children (and children of any age) in meaningful conversation. It is asking questions that require more than "Yes/No" answers or one to three word descriptors. Focusing solely on vocabulary will result in the flash card programs that were prevalent in the 80s and 90s for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. What we end up with are children who can label, sort, categorize - but who cannot relate one piece of information to another; do not understand that there is a context for the information, and have little sense of how things work or fit together. For this to work, the PARENTS have to be educated on how to talk with their children - they do not have this in the "Mommie and Me" play groups or in the books available to parents. And I am not sure you learn this through written media - it is something you have to see someone model for you. A grandmother, maybe.


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