This comment-turned-article is why Robert Harrell was first published here last winter. It is worth a re-read, or a thousand of them throughout this coming year. It is so incredible – I would like to memorize those numbers below, especially the one about Mr. Rogers. If those numbers are right, then we all have a lot of slowing down to do this year:
Suzanne Perez Tobias of the Wichita Eagle published an article in 2008 (August 22) about the research done by Ray Hull, an audiologist at the University of Wichita. He says that most adults speak too quickly for children to process in their native language.
The basic facts:
1. Average 5-to-7 year olds process their native language at about 120 words per minute.
2. Average high school students process native language at about 140-145 words per minute.
3. Average adults speak at 170 words per minute.
Fred Rogers (“Mister Rogers”) trained himself to speak at a rate of 124 words per minute – and kept children spellbound.
Hull says, “Anybody who works with children will save a great deal of time if they will simply speak at a rate children can comprehend.”
He gives an example from school: “So when an algebra teacher is speaking at 160 or 180 words per minute and is introducing a new math concept … that is a problem.”
Now consider that our students are processing a foreign language.
I’m still trying to slow down enough.
Here’s a link to comments on the original article:
And here is a comment on this topic from Chris Stoltz which also sheds valuable light on the subject:
Simple speed test:
110 wpm is on the high end for a 2nd language class. Get your phone’s stopwatch and read the following sentence aloud:
“Tomorrow, I am going to the store with Mary and John.” That should take 10-11 seconds. If you can go that slow, you are at the right speed for a 2nd language class.
It’s AMAZING how slow we have to go!