The ‘word gap’ and 1 city’s plan to close it

Article Summary:

Although Betty Hart’s and Todd Risley’s research on words spoken and heard by young children is over twenty years old, it continues to be important in demonstrating just how significant talk is to language development. Providence Talks in Rhode Island is aiming to give children a head start by increasing their vocabulary and encouraging parents to engage more with their infants and toddlers. After receiving a grant, the program has invested in LENA technology which gives parents measurable reports about how many words their child hears, as well was the number of conversational turns that occur in conversation. Although Providence is a relatively small urban city, the citizens have faced educational challenges with less than 30 percent of children entering kindergarten meeting benchmark early literacy skills, and only 66 percent of students graduating high school within four years. As the program continues to develop strategies for increasing literacy, project directors hope to improve educational outcomes using LENA technology.