Visiting Scholar to Discuss Language Gap in Child Development


The Ofstad Reading Series will host Dr. Megan Figueroa, research scientist in the Tweety Language Development Lab at the University of Arizona, for her presentation “Decolonizing (Psycho)Linguistics Means Dropping the Language ‘Gap’ Rhetoric” at 6 p.m. Sept. 8 via Zoom.

In this lecture, Figueroa will lay out how society must add nuance to the story of child language development by more accurately describing how language develops across families, communities and cultures without portraying certain environments as “high-quality” and others as inherently “lacking” or “impoverished.”

Figueroa maintains the hunt for endogenous and exogenous mechanisms that underlie language development has long been a central theme in (psycho)linguistics; however, much of this work relies on a fallacy that high-quality input is necessary for children to develop language “successfully,” and that there is a gap in that type of input directed at children from historically marginalized families and communities. Within this framework, scholars have inadvertently pathologized the early linguistic experiences of those with less social capital, ultimately preserving power relationships that were established earlier in the United States’ colonial history.

This event is sponsored by the Department of English and Linguistics. Due to the generosity and vision of Odessa Ofstad, the Clayton B. Ofstad Reading Series is able to offer a range of intensive seminars, masterclasses and workshops in creative writing, English and linguistics, led by talented, renowned and deeply engaging guest writers and scholars.
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