The 32-Million Word Gap.

(The Atlantic) David Shenk’s article explores the importance and impact of surrounding kids with spoken, sophisticated vocabulary.  Research conducted by Betty Hart and Todd Risley showed that children in professionals’ homes were exposed to an average of more than fifteen hundred more spoken words per hour than children in welfare homes. Over one year, that amounted to a difference of nearly 8 million words, which, by age four, amounted to a total gap of 32 million words.  This ‘word gap’ was a determining factor in student success in school.  An important implication of the study is that success in school and life is a function of both genetics and environment (i.e. a large vocabulary is something that can be taught, and interacts with native intelligence).  Read Article

Hart, B., & Risley, R.T. (2003). The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3. American Educator: Spring 4-9, which was exerpted with permission from B. Hart and T.R. Risley (1995) – Download Paper

Publication:      The Atlantic
Author:             David Shenk
Publish Date:   3.9.2010