First some facts:
- By the age of five 75% of British children who experienced poverty consistently throughout the early years are below average in langauge development, compared with 35% who never experienced poverty. (Communication Trust, 2017)
- In the UK, low-income children lag behind their middle-income counterparts at school entry by nearly one year in vocabulary, and by smaller but still substantial amounts in other types of cognitive development. (London, Sutton Trust, 2010)
- In the USA, children from low-income backgrounds have heard on average 30 million fewer words than their wealthier peers by the age of three. (American Educator, 2003)
For those of us teaching in an inner city school or a deprived area we are the second chance that many children have to learn the language skills needed to succeed.
The saying the rich get richer and the poor get poorer is true in this instance with respect to language and vocabulary. The children that hear a wider range of vocabulary and have a larger vocabulary that they can use only tend to get richer with regard to vocabulary. They already have the tools to enrich their vocabulary. The children that have a very low range of vocabulary and have poor language skills only get poorer as the gap for them widens significantly with time. We need to bridge an ever increasing gap for them which is incredibly difficult especially if it is not specifically targeted and developed.