Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Vocabulary and achievement in life

Children entering school with a vocabulary of 22,000 words have a distinct advantage over the child who enters school with a vocabulary of 2,000 words. The child with the lower vocabulary is word improvised and that does not bode well for attaining success in school. Many of the skills a child needs to get ready to learn to read are first learned in conversation. Research substantiates that children who have been exposed to a lot of talk have an almost incalculable cognitive advantage. “A child who enters school with a strong vocabulary and strong cognitive abilities is likely to do well in school early on and continues to do well in the longer term.”*  Early language experience actually stimulate a child’s brain to grow. Young children and infants need to be surrounded by people talking and talking a lot. Talking develops a child’s use and understanding of language, which is the basis of reading.

In Verbal Advantage (New York: Random House, 2000), Charles Elster cites research demonstrating the “close relationship between a large, precise knowledge of words and achievement in life” and draws these conclusions: “A low vocabulary is a serious handicap. Ambitious and energetic persons can push ahead in their jobs just so far, but then they reach a plateau caused by low vocabulary. “As you improve your skill with language you will become a better speaker, a better writer, a better reader, and a better listener.  And, if you are all those things, you probably will be a more successful person.”
* US Department of Education

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