Word gaps and income levels/culture

February 6, 2015 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

The Toronto Star, Thursday Feb 5 edition, section GTA, p 1, includes an interesting article titled Income and the ‘word gap‘ in which it reviews research – from 40 years ago – demonstrating that ‘word gaps’ in children from lower income families (and hence  certain socioeconomic and cultural groups) may be reflected in future lower success with academic achievement and jobs. The article includes a cultural caution from a researcher who studied Inuit education, that word gaps may not be reflective of a language disability or gap but instead an alienation or discomfort with school environment.

The article refers to a gadget called LENA…”The LENA is a small recording device that automatically audio-records a child’s natural language environment and calculates aspects of the child’s language and auditory input. The child wears a specially designed t-shirt that holds a small digital language processor (DLP) which audio records for up to 16 hours and is then uploaded to the computer for analysis.  The software determines 1) the number of adult words the child was exposed to, 2) the number of vocalizations a child attempted, and 3) the number of conversational turns between the child and an adult.”   and a UT project  that is ” looking at cultural approaches to auditory-verbal therapy and are using the LENA system to capture the language socialization patterns of minority language speakers.”       [Source: http://www.slp.utoronto.ca/research-news/1-2-3-talk-to-me/ ]    So cool!

Finally, the Toronto Star article discusses a program launched by St Michael’s hospital (in affiliation with TPL), Reach Out and Read, that  “During regular well-child checkups for children ages 6 months to 5 years, Reach Out and Read physicians and nurse practitioners talk to parents about the importance of reading aloud to their children. They give each child a developmentally appropriate book and they maintain a well-stocked library in their waiting rooms. By the time a child in the Reach Out and Read program at St. Michael’s Hospital enters kindergarten, he or she should have a home library of at least five books.”

And finally, from the Toronto Star online article:

“What we know about the “word gap” in Canada

  • Low literacy levels affect around 9 million working-age Canadians
  • People with low literacy skills are twice as likely to be unemployed
  • Up to 50 per cent of adults with low literacy live in low-income households
  • 60 per cent of immigrants have low literacy skills, as opposed to 37 per cent of native-born Canadians
  • 42 percent of Canadians between the ages of 16 and 65 do not have the minimum literacy skills required in a 21st century economy.
  • Source: Canadian Paediatric Society”

Check it all out!


Entry filed under: Internet Resources. Tags: , , , , .

Feb 22-28 is Freedom to Read Week MoE Math in Motion (Feb 2015 issue)

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