Words and their importance in development

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Chapter 9 endnote 23, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

After four years of life, children in higher-income homes have seen or heard four million more words than their low-income counterparts, and they have better vocabulary and reading comprehension.

In one classic study of 42 families (13 high income, 10 mid income, 13 low income, 6 on welfare), researchers conducted monthly, hour-long observations of each family from the time that a child was seven months until age three.[1] Between 86% and 98% of the words used by each child by the age of three were derived from their parents’ vocabularies. The number of words addressed to children differed across income groups. Children from families on welfare heard about 616 words per hour, while those from working class families heard around 1,251 words per hour, and those from professional families heard roughly 2,153 words per hour.

Twenty-nine of the 42 families were recruited for a follow-up study when the children were in third grade. Researchers found that number of words heard at age three were highly indicative of vocabulary, language development, and reading comprehension performance at the ages of nine and ten.

For further reading on similar studies, and intervention studies, see these references.[2][3][4][5][6]

See also


Notes on the Notes

  1. Hart, Betty, and Todd R. Risley. 1995. Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children. Paul H Brookes Publishing.
  2. Fernald, Anne, Virginia A. Marchman, and Adriana Weisleder. 2013. "SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months." Developmental Science 16 (2): 234-248.
  3. Neuman, Susan B., Ellen H. Newman and Julie Dwye. 2011. "Educational Effects of a Vocabulary Intervention on Preschoolers' Word Knowledge and Conceptual Development: A Cluster-Randomized Trial." Reading Research Quarterly 46 (3): 249-272.
  4. Weisleder, Adriana, and Anne Fernald. 2013. "Talking to children matters early language experience strengthens processing and builds vocabulary." Psychological Science 24 (11): 2143-2152.
  5. Ramey, Craig T., and Sharon L. Ramey. 2004 "Early learning and school readiness: Can early intervention make a difference?." Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 50 (4): 471-491.
  6. Perkins, Suzanne C., Eric D. Finegood, and James E. Swain. 2013. "Poverty and language development: Roles of parenting and stress." Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience 10(4): 10-19.