Children are sponges for new vocabulary. Beginning with an average vocabulary of 200 words at age 2, and typically learning five new words a day, a 6-year-old will have acquired a 10,000 word vocabulary (the range is from 5,000 to 20,000 words.) It is estimated that more than 100,000 different words are in the books and other reading materials used by students throughout their school years.
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The average vocabulary consists of 10,000 words.
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An average American three-year-old has mastered about 1,000 words. By the time he reaches adulthood, this average American will have known between 30,000 and 60,000 words.
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I began to question whether others were reading these horror stories. Then the following statistics in the January/February 2000 issue of WorldWatch provided me with a startling reality: Vocabulary of average U.S. 14-year old in 1950 25,000 words; Average vocabulary in 1999 10,000 words.
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In 1950 the average vocabulary of a child entering first grade was 4000 words. By 1990 this figure had dropped to 1000 words. Why? Because children are not read to and do not have very much quality interaction with their parents. Plus they do not pick up new words at play with their peers. And it is hard for two tired, working parents or a single parent to do much with their children at the end of the day. Many kids are simply placed in front of the TV while mom and/or dad get supper ready.