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Shadow_Ferret
09-19-2008, 02:41 AM
I was watching the news and they were talking about the "vocabulary gap."

They were saying that kids, depending on their families income, have a disparity on how many words they know.

For example:

At 4 years:
Kids in Professional Families know 41 million words
Kids in Blue Collar Families know 26 million words
Kids in poor Families know 13 million words.

WTH? I don't even know 13 million words and they say 4 year olds do? That's a lot of words. I wonder if the dictionary even has a million.

And who counts them? That's a lot of counting.

JoNightshade
09-19-2008, 02:43 AM
That's absurd. There aren't even close to a million words in the Oxford English dictionary.

http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutenglish/numberwords

TerzaRima
09-19-2008, 02:52 AM
Kids in Professional Families know 41 million words


My (vague) impression was that the researchers estimated the number of words children had heard spoken by age 3 years--not separate words, just total word count.

alleycat
09-19-2008, 02:56 AM
Here's the original article I believe the news report was talking about. After reading it I'm more concerned about the American educators. ;-)

http://www.aft.org/pubs-reports/american_educator/spring2003/catastrophe.html

Shadow_Ferret
09-19-2008, 02:58 AM
Oh, HEARD, not KNOW. That's different.

Nevermind.

JLCwrites
09-19-2008, 03:02 AM
It’s common to see figures for vocabulary quoted such as 10,000-12,000 words for a 16-year-old, and 20,000-25,000 for a college graduate. These seem not to have much research to back them up. Usually they don’t make clear whether active or passive vocabulary is being quoted, and they don’t account for differences in lifestyle, profession and hobby interests between individuals. Found here (http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/howmany.htm). Personally, language is too nebulous to achieve an accurate count.

Shadow_Ferret
09-19-2008, 03:09 AM
Personally, I think there's a vocabulary gap between my two kids. Our first loved to be read to and it was common to read several books a night to him.

My second couldn't sit if his life depended on it and story time was, "'I am Sam, Sam I am' Hey! Where are you going?"

Kitrianna
09-19-2008, 03:15 AM
We never had much money, but our oldest heard quite a few words by age 4 and could say most of them. Guess she is an exception to that study eh?

donroc
09-19-2008, 03:43 AM
The Highly Selective English Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate says the English language has about 615,000 words, much more than Spanish, Russian, German etc.

vixey
09-19-2008, 03:53 AM
Then SF's news story don't make no sense (so to speak). Where do all the other words come from? (or did I miss something?)

ETA: All 3 of my kids have studied foreign languages. I studied French and Latin. Hubby studed German and French, dabbled in Norwegian. I don't see how we can possibly truly know multiple millions of words no matter how many languages we can combine (tech speak included).

Yeshanu
09-19-2008, 04:49 AM
Basically, what this study seems to be saying is that the words a child knows at age three are those his or her parents know. Like I couldn't figure that out myself, just by using common sense?

And we pay people to research and write this stuff! :Wha:

Seriously, just reading their methodology in selecting the families makes me feel that the study isn't worth the paper it's printed on. And the fact that it only follows the kids until age 3 further erodes the value of the work. People who are geographically stable and who own their own homes are only a small part of the American (and world) population, and they aren't the ones who need to be studied and helped. And a child's vocabulary at age 3 may or may not be a predictor of future success in the world. (I tend to think it would be a somewhat poor indicator myself, as the child who's doing best in school right now had a vocabulary of about ten words until well after he turned two.) But we don't know, because they didn't study it!

Ick.

TerzaRima
09-19-2008, 06:40 AM
People who are geographically stable and who own their own homes are only a small part of the American (and world) population, and they aren't the ones who need to be studied and helped.

I think they're being studied precisely 1)because they typically don't need to be helped and 2) it's becoming increasingly clear that success in early elementary school depends much more on home preparation and family attitudes than anyone thought. So the correlates of middle class parenting are being pinpointed in an effort to turn them into policy.

Yeshanu
09-19-2008, 07:11 AM
I think they're being studied precisely 1)because they typically don't need to be helped and 2) it's becoming increasingly clear that success in early elementary school depends much more on home preparation and family attitudes than anyone thought. So the correlates of middle class parenting are being pinpointed in an effort to turn them into policy.

Actually, it sounds from the paper that they're being studied simply because they're easy to study. Academia has a record of doing that. Medications are tested on men, because men don't have hormonal cycles like women do to mess up the results. They then generalize their findings to women, even though women weren't part of the studies. They study middle class kids in stable homes because such kids are easy to find (the parents read the papers where the ads are placed) and keep track of (they don't move every year.) They then generalize their findings to all kids, despite the fact that the environments are radically different.

It works in reverse, too. Head start programs have been shown to be of great advantage to kids from impoverished backgrounds. But middle class kids are being enrolled in these programs, and there isn't a shred of evidence that they actually help those kids.