Disparities In Language Acquisition

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What if you were told that the disparities in both language processing skills and vocabulary knowledge between infants from rich and poor families were equivalent to a six-month gap by 2 years of age? In other words, would you believe somebody if they were to tell you that, starting at a very young age, children from families of high economic status have proven to be more intellectually advanced than children from lower-class families? Most people would not. While many argue that neither economic status nor social class has an effect on language development, scientific research has proven otherwise – these factors significantly influence the level of one’s vocabulary, language processing, literacy and attention span. In any instance, a person’s …show more content…
However, language processing does not come as easily to others, like people from families of lower economic status. Disparities of language processing, specifically between upper and lower class children, have been analyzed by researchers such as Anne Fernald, who tested toddler’s reactions times by playing them a simple command, like “look at the ball”, and then recording what group of children responded quicker and by how many seconds. Author Bjorn Carey states that the results of Fernald’s testing showed that ”toddlers in the higher socioeconomic status (SES) group could identify the [ball] in about 750 milliseconds, while the lower SES toddlers were 200 milliseconds slower to respond”, continuing to say that “a 200-millisecond difference in terms of mental processing speed is huge at 18 months old.” The reasoning for these significant differences in the processing and interpreting of language stems from the level of exposure a child receives to certain words. For example, if a child is instructed to “look at the ball”, they are likely to respond faster if they were first taught the word “ball” and then given a mental image of the object, where they could learn to associate the word “ball” with a physical toy that they can play with outside. Eventually, these upper-class children whose parents were effortlessly able to expose them to several different objects in which they could associate new words with, become able to process language better than their lower-class peers and, virtually, are at a permanent advantage once out of their critical periods and into their classrooms. On the other hand, kids from poor families fall into a domino effect; their initial lack of language comprehension, due to a lack of exposure, leads to a decrease in their social interaction, where they may end up socially isolated because they cannot “keep up” with their wealthier

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