Why Read Aloud? Strategies to Improve Reading Comprehension and Language Skills

Is reading a loud currently part of your classroom routine? If not, it should be. Reading aloud involves the oral reading of a text by a teacher or a student. In the classroom, it takes many forms. Reading aloud can be used to improve reading comprehension, promoting listening and speaking skills, and even help with the revising and editing steps in the writing process.

Reading Aloud for Reading Comprehension

Students access texts in multiple ways. One of those ways is orally. According to the Read Aloud 15 Minutes National Campaign, reading aloud helps to produce avid and skilled readers. Teachers who read aloud have the ability to model how a text should be read and can bring extra meaning to the text by changing their inflection or using different voices to represent characters. This can aid in comprehension. Students who read aloud must take the time to stop and think about what they are reading, noting when periods or question marks appear or changing their tone to match what they are reading. Additionally, students who are auditory learners may better be able to understand a text that is read aloud rather than sitting and trying to read it on their own.

In your classroom, mix reading aloud with more traditional reading activities. For example, read a paragraph aloud, and then have students read the next paragraph on their own or read aloud a picture book to illustrate a key theme or concept before diving into a lesson. If you plan to read aloud a book to students, remember that when read aloud, students can often understand a book that is one or two grade levels above their current reading level so reading aloud is a great way to introduce more advanced texts and language structures.

Reading Aloud to Improve Listening and Speaking Skills

Just as teachers can model how to read a text properly to access its meaning, they can also model how to read aloud a text to practice the proper way to speak. As students listen to teachers read aloud, they can learn the proper way to pronounce key words or phrases. They can learn how to pause after a period or to use inflection when asking a question. They can also hear key aspects of speaking, such as tone, pacing, and proper word order. If you choose to read aloud to students to improve speaking skills, make sure they have a copy of the text in front of them. This will help them make valuable connections between the words on the page and what they hear coming out of the teacher's mouth.

In addition to learning speaking skills, read alouds can improve listening skills. As students listen to a text being read aloud, they can learn to track a speaker and to follow along with different sentence structures. Pulling dialogue from a text can be a good way to help students follow multiple speakers at once. When testing this idea, read aloud a section of text for students, and then immediately give students a simple quiz about key details in the text. If studnets are not able to answer the questions, talk about why that might be.

For additional ideas on how reading aloud can help with listening skills, check out Listenwise's blog post How are Listening and Reading Related?

Reading Aloud to Improve Writing

A good writer will tell you that one of the best secrets to catching errors in a paper is to read it aloud. During the revision process, have students read their papers aloud to themselves and they will catch typos, awkward sentences, word choice errors, and other mistakes they have made. You can also have them listen to someone else read their writing so they can hear how their work sounds without getting caught up in the actual process of forming words and saying them aloud.

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