Interpreting the early language trajectories of children from low-SES and language minority homes: implications for closing achievement gaps

Dev Psychol. 2013 Jan;49(1):4-14. doi: 10.1037/a0027238. Epub 2012 Feb 13.


On average, children from low socioeconomic status (SES) homes and children from homes in which a language other than English is spoken have language development trajectories that are different from those of children from middle-class, monolingual English-speaking homes. Children from low-SES and language minority homes have unique linguistic strengths, but many reach school age with lower levels of English language skill than do middle-class, monolingual children. Because early differences in English oral language skill have consequences for academic achievement, low levels of English language skill constitute a deficit for children about to enter school in the United States. Declaring all developmental trajectories to be equally valid would not change the robust relation between English oral language skills and academic achievement and would not help children with poor English skills to be successful in school. Remedies aimed at supporting the development of the English skills required for academic success need not and should not entail devaluing or diminishing children's other language skills.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Educational Status*
  • Humans
  • Language Development*
  • Minority Groups*
  • Social Class*