June 14, 2018

Lean into student backgrounds for more effective teaching

More than two decades ago, a study popularized the so-called “30 million word gap,” an idea that the children of well-educated professionals hear about 30 million more words by age 4 than the children of lesser-educated parents.

Subsequent work has called the validity of the “30 million word gap” into question, but it’s still frequently quoted by educators and pundits.

It’s time to start thinking differently, Penn GSE educational linguist Nelson Flores recently told syndicated columnist Esther J. Cepeda.

“Schools are really missing out by framing these students as deficient,” Flores recently told Cepeda.

“A teacher coming from a perspective of ‘These kids are broken and I need to fix them’ is not the best way to move forward. If, however, teachers can learn about diverse students’ linguistic diversity and their rich linguistic practices in order to build upon those, then I think that’s how you’re going to get more effective teaching.”

Read Cepeda’s full column here.