Reading Aloud

Silent reading and reading aloud

I’ve always distinguished reading aloud from silent reading in my teaching practices.  I rarely ask my students to read a text a loud. If I do, it’s only for only ONE purpose in mind: to practice pronunciation.

I just don’t get why reading aloud should be assigned at all in ELT apart from the above reason. Why does a teacher need to ask students to open the textbook and tell one of them to read a text on a certain page while the others are not necessarily following the reading?  Most probably, they might be day dreaming, even sleeping 🙂 In fact reading aloud bears more disadvantages than any merits at all.

Disadvantages of reading aloud

So let’s consider the disadvantages of reading aloud

  • Does the students understand the content when he/she reads aloud? I don’t think so. Students main concern when reading aloud is to struggle with the script to decode it. Little attention is on meaning.
  • The activity is done by one student. The other students are passively listening (if they are listening at all)
  • Students don’t understand the purpose of the reading aloud activity.  They just read because you told them so.
  • It is a huge waste of precious time.

Meaningful reading aloud activities

How to make it more meaningful?

  • While a student is reading aloud, the others are invited to CLOSE their textbooks!
  • Give the listening students a list of words on sheets of paper and tell them that they have to tick the vocabulary items that they hear.
  • Or give them a focus question that they have to answer while they are listening.
  • You might also try to give them a chart to fill while they are listening.
  • Another activity that you might use while a student is reading aloud is to tell them to rewrite in their own words what the text is about.

Of course you can think of other imaginative and creative ways. I would be curious to know how you use the activity in your class!

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5 Responses

  1. Only when reading aloud in language classrooms is used as an activity that is relevant to students and engaging does it become a useful activity. One thing I have tried in the past is having my students them draw what they are hearing when someone is reading aloud, and then compare their pictures afterwards. This helps with those learners that are more visual.

  2. Great tip Jennifer!!! This is another way to get students involved in reading aloud. Thank you for contributing.

  3. I’m not sure I agree: This is not true for all students, certainly, but some of my adult learners do find that they can follow better if they read along and also hear. So if I have enough room to spead students into pairs and groups I like to give them the opportunity to read out loud to each other, alternating paragraphs. In your experience, then, this is no good?

  4. This might be true for adult learners who are motivated and willing to learn. But as fa as I know, and according to my experience with high school students, it is very difficult to catch students attention for a secod or two while one of the peers is reading aloud. That’s why I don’t assign the activity anymore or if I assign it I set a purpose for the reading aloud as described above.

  5. Sonia Mohammad says:

    Hiii.. Thanks alot for your article..
    I understand according to the modern methodolgy of teaching second language, it is no use of asking students to read aloud.. They think as u’ve already mentioned it a waste of time… I do agree with you, but how about the following points:
    1. teacher – student reading monitor
    2- pronunciation , you may find a student of year 10 pronouncing one word incorrectly only because he wasn’t corrected one day
    3- what about eloquence and purity of language
    According to my native language, Arabic, this is a period specified only for listening to students reading aloud…

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