The 30 million word gap may be one of the most-used terms in early education. And yet there’s an argument over whether or not it really exists. At the same time, no one disagrees with how much it really matters.
It sounds like a puzzling riddle, doesn’t it? Fortunately, I’m talking in this episode with Dr. Rachel Romeo about where that phrase comes from, what it really means, and where the research has taken us in the decades since it was first coined.
Dr. Rachel Romeo is one of the researchers behind a more recent study with a corresponding paper titled, “Beyond the 30 Million Word Gap: Children’s Conversational Exposure is Associated with Language-Related Brain Function”.
She’s sharing why brain growth and language development rely on factors that go beyond simple word counts, and how the famous phrase has come to be a place holder for something much more important.
Notes from the Show:
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Learn about Dr. Rachel Romeo here.
Dr. Romeo mentions getting “the book” off of the shelf, which contains the original reference to the 30 million word gap. Find that book here.
I enjoyed this presentation on the original research in today’s context, presented by Dr. Steve Warren, speaking at the LENA Conference. LENA produces the modern recorders Dr. Romeo mentioned. You can learn more about their work here.
Read the research paper Dr. Romeo co-authored: Beyond the 30-Million-Word Gap: Children’s Conversational Exposure Is Associated With Language-Related Brain Function
Article/Interview/Video with Dr. Romeo about her research and the importance of back and forth interactions. (via MIT)
I’m intrigued by this new research indicating that it is the complexity, not the quantity, of child directed talk that impacts the development of language skills.
TED Talk by Dr. Patricia Kuhl (who was mentioned): The Linguistic Genius of Babies
If you really want to dig deep, here’s an article by Dr. Kuhl about the social aspects of language learning.
As we talked about human connection as a developmental driver, I kept thinking about this working paper from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard: Young Children Develop in an Environment of Relationships.
Dr. Romeo also mentions the work of Dr. Meredith Rowe (one of her mentors). Learn more from her in this video, Language Development and Parent-Child Interactions. She mentions Rachel’s work here and makes the distinction between quantity and quality when it comes to interactions as well as the developmental framework for types of interactions.
Dr. Romeo mentions the ecological framework from theorist, Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner. Learn about that theory here.
Here’s more from doctoral candidate Monica Ellwood-Lowe on the impact financial stress has on parent-child interactions.
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