How Many Words Does a Child Hear?

How many words a child hears varies on how he or she is spoken to, and the number might affect his or her language skills in the future. Parents who have higher incomes might speak more words to their children than parents who earn lower incomes. Research has found that by the time they are 3 years old, children of professionals have heard 50% more words than children of working-class parents, on average, and at least three times more than the children of parents on welfare. It is thought that parents who have greater financial means have more time and resources to spend on their children. Lower-income parents might be working multiple jobs to make ends meet, giving them less time to spend with their children and higher stress levels that might reduce the number of words they say to their children.

More about how many words a child hears:

  • Children from welfare families hear an average of 10 million words by age 3, and professional parents’ children hear about 30 million words.

  • Research has shown that the more words a child hears by age 3, the more likely he or she is to perform better academically during primary school ages.

  • Hearing an average of 30,000 words a day from birth to age 3 is thought to be a predictor of academic achievement in school.
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Discussion Comments


I am a stay at home mom. I gave up my profession and stayed home with my son who now is 7 and my daughter who is now 2-1/2. The younger one started talking at 9 months and never stopped. She has a rich vocabulary and both my kids have great confidence.

I don't think you have to be rich and be a professional in order for your kids to have a better vocabulary. I think all kids need is love, attention and care from their parents. Someone who is there to listen to them and to talk to them. Kids don't want to know how much money you make. All they want is your time. Give them time and they will become successful individuals.


Well, in my own observation, I have so many friends who are born rich and have professional parents, but most of the time, they would always talk to their maids because their parents are busy working, making money and going abroad for business purposes.

Talking to the maids is even worse, because some maids have dialects that a child could copy.

I also have friends who have parents that are not professionals and have low incomes, but they are more good in communicating and better in school. But it still depends, because some rich dudes are also good in school.

For me, it doesn't matter whether your parents are professional or not.

Children just need time and care from their parents and they would be very good individuals with so much confidence in themselves.


The richness of the vocabulary of a high income person is likely to have controlled their academic and then financial success. So the problem is compounded and leads to polarisation in society. Society needs everyone to have the richest possible vocabulary and the highest level of literacy.

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