Language Matters:

Talking to Kids

OPINION: It is no secret that much of our success in what we do in school and at work is determined by how well we can explain our thoughts – whether it be through essays, speeches, meetings, or even talk between peers.

However, recent research has changed people’s understandings of why this might be.

In a 1995 study that became quite famous, Betty Hart and Todd Risley examined the parent-child interaction of 42 families in Kansas and concluded that families from higher socioeconomic backgrounds tended to provide approximately 32 million more words for their children’s input by the child’s third birthday than did families from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

As these families also tended to have higher achieving children in school, the researchers concluded that providing a much higher amount of verbal input to children could help bridge their vocabulary gap. Based on these findings, campaigns were launched in schools to encourage parents to speak and read more to their children.

However, other researchers in education, psychology, sociology, and linguistics since then have questioned the directness of the relationship between more input and higher achievement.

Link to video and article: Language Matters: Talking to Kids | Stuff.co.nz


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