Saturday, May 07, 2011

New Scientist reports on educational benefits of hesitation in speech:

- I had always assumed “ums” and “ers” were useless noises, an indication that my brain isn't working quickly enough. What does your research show?
- It's one of those things your mother tells you: “Speak in full sentences. Don't um and er.” I think it's a view that most people have, that disfluencies are not a good thing because they don't really communicate anything; they are just fillers.
Our latest study shows that disfluencies in speech directed to young children have an interesting benefit. What children have learned, surprisingly early, is when there is an “um” or “er”, the word that follows is almost always one they don't know. When you are fumbling for the correct word, you are sending a message to the child that they should pay attention. That's very useful.

I'm going to test this technique on my students :)

tags: education,  psychology

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