The 30 Million Word Gap

The 30 Million Word Gap

One of the most distinctive features that separate us from other species is the complexity of our communication systems. We are verbal creatures; all we do is yack, yack, yack. Whether by speech, sign, or writing, the way we navigate our world and manage our relationships and lives is through language.

Is it any wonder, then, that language problems lead to many other problems? If we cannot understand our world or express ourselves, how are we expected to get around this world full of spoken and written words? Language delays often lead to many problems that start in the early school years and grow as language expectations grow.

Given that we are linguistic creatures, it only makes sense that our language learning begins at birth. It also makes sense that there is a relationship between how much language we are bombarded with and the rate at which our language skills grow. Not only is all of this common sense…it is also proven through studies specifically designed to examine this relationship.

Many years ago, a group of researchers discovered and documented this direct relationship. Over the years of this study, the difference between the language development of different groups of kids was staggering (and saddening). Here is a video discussing the recent public health efforts in the U.S. that are based on this research. It also explains some important things about a small child’s brain and how it develops. It also highlights the need to continue to invest in early childhood.

Given the importance of early language experiences, if you suspect a delay in your child, do not hesitate to make a referral (just navigate to our “Refer your child” page). You may also contact TykeTalk, the local counties’ public service.


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Ontario Speech & Language Services