Educators are familiar with the 30 Million Word Gap identified by U.S. educational researchers Hart and Risley. Their study revealed a remarkable difference in oral language exposures by age 3 for a child from a family on welfare compared to a child from a middle to high-income home.
Hart and Risley’s research was first published in 1995 and examined language exposure in the context of socio-economic differences. Two decades later, it’s perhaps worth asking: how has the explosion of new technology impacted oral language exposures for children in homes across the socio-economic spectrum?
Technology’s Impact on Oral Language Exposures for Children
As most parents will readily attest, it’s not just our teenagers who are glued to their smartphones. It seems our little ones have a remarkable ability to snag our devices for their own entertainment. And when their older siblings and parents are checking their Facebook, this is also going to have an impact on oral language exposures for little ones in the home.
This is not to label technology a villain – that’s too simplistic. And in many ways technology has actually fostered communication within families. Our curiosity is with the implications of technology in the area of oral language exposures for little ones. And by extension, what are the implications for educators tasked with preparing little tykes to become successful readers?
Building an Oral Language Foundation for Reading Success
The question is worth asking if only because we know that oral language is so critical for successful learning, the essential precursor to success in reading and writing. Where that foundation may be lacking – regardless of the cause – it’s going to require some intentional work and strategies.
And that responsibility is going to fall on schools to ensure students are on a good path for success in reading and learning. In the meantime, for those of us blessed to have little ones in our homes, let’s remember to put down our devices and engage them verbally!
Interested to know more about the vital importance of oral language and strategies to help young learners get that foundation? Contact us!