Letter to the Editor

Dear Editors,

Lately I have been very interested in a phenomenon that was discovered by researchers Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley in the late 1960’s.  These researchers discovered that by the age of three—children from homes stricken by poverty heard 30 million less words—than children raised in wealthy or academic homes.

Now we know that the English language is made up of approximately only 50,000 words.  What the researchers counted was how many words the children were actually exposed to within a 2 ½ year period.  They discovered that children raised in poverty heard and said 30 million words less than children from wealthy homes. 

The researchers discovered that children in wealth were exposed to an additional 15,000, 000 words per year than children from impoverished homes.  By the age of three children in impoverished homes were experiencing a deficit in their vocabulary which would follow them throughout their academic careers.

Even though it has taken some years for American school systems to address this issue, educators, psychologist s and researchers are now trying to close this gap, by enriching the vocabulary of children and their parents living in poverty.  To learn more about this subject go to centerforeducation.rice.edu/slc/LS/30MillionWordGap.html