Much of the framework between oral language and vocabulary gets framed as a deficit where children from advantaged homes out perform disadvantaged children's on measures of vocabulary size (Hart and Risely, 1995).
These models do not account for the rich and varied models of literacy (Kirkland, ) and do not seek envision families as a source of wealth and rich literate experiences (Hartle- Schutte, 1993; Heath, 1983; Taylor, 1983). As Gee notes:
“Children are, in fact, good at specialist language—such language is not really much of a challenge for them when integrated into lucid rules, activities, and play.”
Types of Vocabulary
Our Eurocentric and typographic views of knowledge have lead to vocabulary being defined in two ways oral and print and that as student literacy skills grow they begin to learn vocabulary more through print than language.
This then gets broken down into receptive vocabulary we can understand and productive vocabualry that we use.
Estimates of vocabulary can never be me made for first one must determine what words matter. Nage and Anderson (1984) used a list draw from textbooks. Biemeller (2004) counted the number of roots (grouping suffixes and prefixes with the root) and then declared students acquire 800 to 1,000 word meanings a year. Incidental outside of school vocabulary, otherwise known as meaningful to children, was not included.
Anglin (1993) determined the rate of known derivative words from roots is five times higher than that in first grade. This evidence aligns to research in spelling that finds many fitfth graders at the derivative spelling level.
The Vocabulary Gap
Is a myth and also a reality. Being not rich usually leads to having less stuff than being rich. Makes sense words would be the same. Especially when the rich get to decide what words matter.
Hart and Risley found “In four years, an average child in a professional family would accumulate experience with almost 45 million words, an average child in a working-class family 26 million words, and an average child in a welfare family 13 million words,”
The methods have been called out for the reductive views on defining language and how data was extrapolated from hour long visits and also being designed to measure deficits of words to answer question.Sperry recently tried to replicate findings and included caregiver bystanders.
In response other researchers pointed out that students do no learn well from overheard speech.
Marjorie Faulstich Orellana, in an interview with NPR over the Sperry study noted, “Should adults direct lots of questions to children in ways that prepare them to answer questions in school?” “middle-class, mostly white practice“.