Understanding the Development of Language in a Child: Research

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Research has proved that there is a connection between language exposure and the reading abilities of a child.

In a longitudinal study conducted at the University of Kansas, 6 month old babies were observed until they were three years old. Researchers recorded what occurred around the baby for one hour each month. These results proved to be important when understanding what needs to be done in the development of language and the teaching of reading.

The results from this study demonstrate that in order to learn basic phonics, most often taught in first grade, a student needs a vocabulary of 10,000 to 12,000 words.

The study showed the following results:

Children who had been read to, talked to or played with for only 50 hours (2 minutes per day) displayed negative reading ability.

  • They were not ready for basic phonics until the 3rd grade
  • They only have a vocabulary of around 4000 words
  • They have heard or experienced approximately 13 million words

Children who had been read to, talked to or played with for 1800 hours (1 hour per day) showed improved abilities as compared to those who didn’t receive too much exposure.

  • They were ready to begin phonics learning by 1st grade
  • They have a vocabulary of 10000 words
  • They have heard and experienced approximately 26 million words

Children who have been read to, talked to or played with for around 2000 hours (1 hour and 6 minutes per day) displayed a positive reading ability.

  • They were ready for basic phonics by kindergarten
  • They knew around 10,000-12,000 words
  • They have heard or experienced approximately 45 million words

Therefore children with more interaction in language rich environments have better development of language.

Click here to learn more about this particular study.

What techniques have you used to encourage parents to get involved in the academic development of their child?

From Professional Learning Board’s online continuing education course for teachers: Reading Across the Curriculum

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