+ Speak More Slowly to Your Students, Says Audiology Professor

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Ray Hull, Audiology professor at Wichita State University, tells new teachers that the trick to get children to listen is simple.  Just slow down.

Hull’s articles and research have appeared in many journals and papers including the New York Times.  

And according to his research, the average adult speaks at a rate of almost 170 words per minute,  while the average 5- to 7-year-old processes speech at a rate of only 120 words per minute.

The gap between what a child hears and what he or she understands can appear to parents and teachers as inattention, confusion or outright defiance, according to an article in the Wichita Eagle.

Hull says, “My daughter says ‘My teacher talks so fast, I can’t hear her.’ ”

He believes there would be fewer cases of learning disabilities, hearing problems and behavior problems if adults who work with children would slow their pace to Mr. Rogers’ speed.

“There’s a reason children were so captivated and mesmerized by Mr Rogers,” he says.  “He may have been one of the only adults children were able to understand.”

Rogers kept children’s attention because he practiced speaking at a rate of about 124 words a minute, says Hull.  The pace may sound awkward, even ridiculous, to adults.  But it is a great relief to children who are accustomed to hearing and understanding only snippets of the language thrown at them.

According to Hull, “In young children, the central nervous system has to mature just like the rest of them.  And it does so slowly, over time.”

The average high school student processes speech at a rate of about 140 to 145 words per minute — still significantly more slowly than the average adult’s speaking rate of 170 per minute.

“Anybody who works with children will save a great deal of time if they will simply speak at a rate that children can understand.”

source: Article by Suzanne Perez Tobias in the Wichita Eagle on 8-22-08.

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One response to “+ Speak More Slowly to Your Students, Says Audiology Professor

  1. Pingback: Why do we speak s-l-ow-l-y in the target language? | t.p.r.s. q&a