One of the best ways to learn a new language is by reading that language, and in our case today, we are talking about reading English. But did you know that there is one way to read that is even better than all the others? We call it reading aloud and this is the process of speaking the words that you read, and it is full of many great benefits!
As you speak what you read, your mind focuses to a much greater degree than if you were to just read silently. This focus helps to bring the written word to life. Words on a page tend to stay within the realm of information, where spoken words become something like performance. In this way, the reader becomes both the audience AND the actor.
Moreover, when the reader encounters a line or word that appears to be unfamiliar, greater attention and curiosity is placed on the meaning to ensure that the ‘actor’ can deliver the word or phrase appropriately and accurately. This greater curiosity can often reveal the contextual clues to help unpackage the meaning of the unknown or unfamiliar word in a more efficient way than that of reading silently. Previously known grammar structures and vocabulary words are also improved as the words become not only spoken, but also heard. Some linguists consider hearing a word to be essential to the learning process and by reading aloud, this is a shortcut to hearing those new words as well as reading them.
The extra layers of speaking and hearing seems to have a positive effect on reading; reading aloud helps you remember.
This greater memory retention works in two ways. First, with greater focus placed on the individual components, individual pieces (e.g. words, phrases) can be remembered better.
Second, entire passages can be remembered better when they are read aloud. Said another way, the main point or the message of entire text can be better retained if it is spoken rather than just being silently read.
These processes help improve your overall listening and reading skills. As the sounds of proper grammar and sentence structure become more tightly bound to the printed page, the reader’s awareness of correct and incorrect usage becomes more honed.
For some students who are producing English content, one of the best ways to proofread is to take the sentences you have written and read them aloud. This process has been shown to reveal what is actually on the page, rather than what the reader WANTS to be on the page. Good proofreaders know to always read the page aloud and never read it silently.
So, to review, reading aloud seems to make you more focused that just reading silently. Reading aloud brings the text to life and changes you into an actor, and helps you become a better proofreader. Reading aloud helps you to learn specific English vocabulary and grammatical structures while also conveying the message of the text in a more efficient way.
With so many benefits, why not grab your nearest English text, and read it aloud? The benefits may surprise you.
Professor Michael Wesorick
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▲ Dept of. Global Language Center