Sperry, Sperry, and Miller (2018) aim to debunk what is called the 30-million-word gap by claiming that children from lower income households hear more speech than Hart and Risley () reported. We address why the 30-million-word gap should not be abandoned, and the importance of retaining focus on the vital ingredient to language learning-quality speech directed to children rather than overheard speech, the focus of Sperry et al.'s argument. Three issues are addressed: Whether there is a language gap; the characteristics of speech that promote language development; and the importance of language in school achievement. There are serious risks to claims that low-income children, on average, hear sufficient, high-quality language relative to peers from higher income homes.
© 2018 Society for Research in Child Development.