Child Development Perspectives
The 30-million-word gap, the quantified difference in the amount of speech that children growing up in low-resourced homes hear compared to their peers from high-resourced homes, is a phrase that has entered the collective consciousness. In the discussion of quantity, the complex and nuanced environments in which children learn language were distilled into a singular metric—number of words. In this article, we propose examining children’s language environments by focusing on what caregivers communicate to children and how they communicate it. Focusing on the features of the language environment promotes a more inclusive approach to understanding how children learn and the diverse contexts in which that learning occurs.
caregiver-child interaction, early childhood, language input
© 2021 The Authors.
Masek, Lillian R.; Ramirez, Alexus G.; McMillan, Brianna T.M.; Hirsh-Pasek, Kathy; and Golinkoff, Roberta Michnick, "Beyond Counting Words: A paradigm Shift for the Study of Language Acquisition" (2021). Psychology: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.