Sometimes my train of thought leaves the station without a particular destination in mind. This often occurs when I happen upon an interesting link someone has tweeted.
Today that was a link to a blog post by Amber Teamann, an assistant principal in Texas. She was talking about the importance of read alouds for vocabulary development, among other reasons. Definitely worth reading.
There was a handy little fact in there about word usage, written vs. oral. Our spoken language is a condensed (think tweeted) version of what we would actually write to communicate the same thought. As a result, reading exposes us to a far greater variety of words. Seems obvious, right? She notes the rare words per 1000 found in primary books is 16.3, comic books have as many as 53.5. That’s a lot of potential for learning!
I’d never heard of this measure before, so I Googled it. Thought train now firmly on a diversion! This took me to the University of Oregon, and a 1995 study about vocabulary. Know what they found? Perhaps unsurprisingly it’s a student’s socio-economic background that has the largest affect on vocabulary. But check out the highlights, it’s dramatic!
“By the time the children were 3 years old, parents in less economically favored circumstances had said fewer different words in their cumulative monthly vocabularies than the children in the most economically advantaged families in the same period of time.”
“The number of words students learn varies greatly: 2 vs 8 per day = 750 vs 3,000 per year.”
Food for thought…or rather, words.