"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, April 24, 2015

Closing the vocabulary gap: Simpler solutions

Sent to Education Week, April 24, 2015

Children of poverty clearly have slower vocabulary development and this is appears to related not only to the quantity but also the quality of interaction of parents ("Key to vocabulary gap is quality of conversation,” April 22).

Rather than intervene and give parents' "conversation training" we might consider simpler solutions.

First, despite Prof. Neuman's misgivings about read-alouds, there is substantial evidence that even a modest effort to provide books and basic guidance in read-alouds has a substantial effect on vocabulary growth. Especially interesting are a series of studies using Reach Out and Read, in which books and guidance are provided during well-child clinic visits.

Second, encourage self-selected free voluntary reading as soon as children can read independently. A recent study by Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at the University of London confirmed that we can increase our vocabulary by reading at any age: the impact of reading on vocabulary development in older readers is independent of the level of poverty of their parents.
"Late intervention" is powerful: A child of poverty who becomes a dedicated pleasure reader will rapidly close the not only the vocabulary gap, but the literacy gap in general.
Stephen Krashen

original article: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/04/22/key-to-vocabulary-gap-is-quality-of.html

Some sources:
Krashen, S. and McQuillan, J. 2007. Late intervention. Educational Leadership 65 (2): 68-73.
Krashen, S. 2011. Reach out and read (aloud). Language Magazine 10  (12): 17-19.
Sullivan, A. and Brown, M. 2014. Vocabulary from adolescence to middle-age. Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Institute of Education, University of London.
Trelease, J. 2013. The Read-Aloud Handbook. New York: Penguin. Seventh edition.

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