The Power of Talk: Impact of Adult Talk, Conversational Turns, and TV

Jill Gilkerson & Jeffrey Richards


This booklet, The Power of Talk, provides a sample of what has been learned so far from mining the data collected using the LENA language environment analysis system. It describes the development of LENA and a natural language corpus on child and adult speech, to our knowledge the largest of its type in the world. This is the second edition of The Power of Talk; the first was published in January 2007. Note that numerical results have changed since the first edition due to improvements in the software processing algorithms. We plan to update this report periodically as additional data is collected and new analyses are conducted. One objective the LENA Foundation has had from the beginning, both in the development of the LENA System and in the collection of the data on child language development, was to confirm and extend the results of the breakthrough study released in 1995 by Betty Hart, Ph.D. and Todd Risley, Ph.D. Hart and Risley asked why some children do better academically than others. They determined that a child’s intellectual success later in life is directly related to the amount of talk the child hears from birth to age three. Research conducted by the LENA Foundation using the LENA System has indeed confirmed many of their important findings.

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