Last weekend, I did a session on vocabulary for a National Association of Advisors in English conference, in which I presented a range of arguments, some of which I have already shared in previous blogs and in different contexts, some of which I have developed further. In brief here are some of the arguments I put forward.
- The ‘30 million word vocabulary gap’ research should no longer be used to argue for more work on vocabulary in classrooms. It dates from 1995, has been comprehensively critiqued for its limited size and methodology and its claims have not been replicated since. Indeed, the most recent attempt to repeat its work (by Sperry, Sperry and Miller), with a more legitimate methodology, failed to deliver the same results. There is much new research too on the greater significance of the quality of interaction as opposed to quantity of words in the early years (Dr Jill Gilkerson, Dale Walker and others).
- Even if it did have any credence, what would its value be in relation to older students? Even if one thought it might have any value, the Hart Risely study was focused only on children of 7 months to 3 years old and their learning of language in the home. This should not be uncritically extended to relate to the language of …
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