What’s New in the Bridging the Word Gap Research Network


Now Accepting Applications!   Bridging the Word Gap (BWG) Emerging Scholars Program

The Bridging the Word Gap Research Network (BWGRN) is now seeking applicants for the Bridging the Word Gap Emerging Scholars Program!

The Bridging the Word Gap Emerging Scholars Program is a mentorship program designed to enhance the ability of emerging scholars to enter into productive careers focused on carrying out research that will help understand the word gap and develop interventions to reduce the gap.

During this two-year fellowship, scholars carry out a proposed research study related to the word gap under the guidance of BWGRN mentors. Scholars later then present their research.

Click here to learn more information about the Emerging Scholars Program and access the application here.  The application deadline is November 30, 2018.

Questions about the BWG Emerging Scholars Program or application can be directed to Alana Schnitz, Project Coordinator, at (913)735-2672 or aschnitz@ku.edu or Judith Carta, Ph.D., Director of BWG Research Network, at 913-321-3143 or carta@ku.edu.


Talking with Babies Linked to Language Skills and IQ in Late Childhood, LENA Researchers Find

According to a longitudinal study published in Pediatrics, “Language Experience in the Second Year of Life and Language Outcomes in Late Childhood,” a child’s language experience between 18-24 months may predict their language and cognitive skills during school age years.

Researchers used LENA technology to audio-record the adult words and adult-child conversations of 146 infants and toddlers for six months. 10 years later, they assessed the children’s language and cognitive functioning, finding that conversational turn-taking between the ages of 18-24 months significantly correlated with IQ, verbal comprehension, and receptive and expressive vocabulary scores.

This study reaffirms the importance of addressing the word gap and developing interventions that foster the best early language environments. Read the publication and learn more about the study on LENA’s blog.


“Language Matters: Denying the Existence of the 30-Million-Word Gap Has Serious Consequences”

In response to recent criticisms of the word gap, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and colleagues published an article in Child Development entitled “Language Matters: Denying the Existence of the 30-Million-Word Gap Has Serious Consequences.” The authors lay out why the word gap cannot be disregarded, despite recent efforts to invalidate the research by Hart and Risley (1995) that has been instrumental in developing strategies to reduce the impact of poverty on children. The authors present compelling evidence for the language exposure gap across income levels and defend the importance of child-directed speech compared to overheard speech, noting that the benefits of overheard speech are unknown. The article underscores that abandoning the focus on the word gap could be harmful for low-income children. Read the full article here.


Neuroscience Research Finds Talking with Young Children Improves Language Regions of Developing Brain

In a recent neuroimaging study of 40 children published in the Journal of Neuroscience,  researchers have identified a positive relationship between adult-child conversation and connections between brain regions critical for the comprehension and production of speech. While it is well known that early language exposure affects children’s linguistic and cognitive skills and later academic achievement, this study provides new evidence supporting the link between language exposure and neuroanatomy. Read the full article here.


5 common myths about the word gap

To learn more, click here.


An important response to recent critiques of Hart and Risley’s original research which identified the 30 million word gap

“Talking with children matters: Defending the 30 million word gap”

To read the response, click here.


Bridging the Word Gap Poster Presentations at the 2018 Conference on Research Innovations in Early Intervention (CRIEI)

To learn more about the BWG poster presentations at CRIEI click here.


Submit your Practice-based Research Collaborative Project Proposal for the 2018 Cohort

We are excited to announce that we are initiating the application process for researchers and practitioners to join the Bridging the Word Gap Research Network, Practice Based Research Collaborative (PBRC) second cohort! Click here to access the PBRC description and proposal form. Send your proposal in now to be included in the Fall 2018 cohort. We will begin reviewing starting September 15th and continue until all openings are filled with qualified research program partnerships.


New Winter Gem of the Month

The Winter Gem of the Month is hot off the press, click here to read.