Closing the 30 million word gap

(eSchool News) “There is a distinction between speaking in sophisticated ways to your children and just talking to them,” said William Weil, CEO of Tales2Go. “Even in the most sophisticated homes, parents don’t say to their children, ‘Observe, child’—they say, ‘Look over there.’ The words that kids need to hear are actually in books.”

A recent Pew survey found that just half of U.S. parents read to their children every day, and that figure drops to 33 percent for parents with a high school diploma or less. Weil said many parents aren’t reading to their children because they aren’t fluent in English themselves, or because they work multiple jobs and don’t have the time. But “if you can’t read to your children often enough, someone has to,” he said.

That’s where Weil’s company comes in. Tales2Go streams audio books to children’s computers or mobile devices wherever they are, as long as they have an internet connection. When schools buy a site license to the service, their students can have unlimited, simultaneous access to any of the 8,000 fiction, nonfiction, and Spanish language titles in the company’s collection.

Proficient reading is predicated on having a large vocabulary, Weil said—and “it’s through repeated exposure to spoken, sophisticated words that you build vocabulary.” Listening to audio books can increase the frequency that kids are getting this exposure, both in the classroom and at home—which is why the Los Angeles Unified School District and Florida’s Orange and Broward counties are using Tales2Go as part of their literacy efforts.

For many people, “it doesn’t make sense” to use audio books as a key literacy tool, Weil acknowledged: “I know there are parents who think audio books are cheating, and I know there are educators who think, well, that’s just lazy.”

But the Common Core standards “raise up listening to be a skill that is equivalent to reading and writing and speaking,” he said. In response, more elementary schools are adding a listening component to their station rotations, where students can listen to fluently spoken language.

This is “driving vocabulary acquisition and attention,” Weil said. “It also exposes children to more complex texts than they can decode on their own.” Read Article

Publication:      eSchool News
Author:             Dennis Pierce
Publish Date:   2.22.2016