We begin our early reading by reading aloud. The process of making sounds from a series of letters into words that are understood is a great accomplishment. By reading aloud, young children can be coached into proper pronunciation. Children are often placed in reading groups by perceived abilities, and reading aloud in a group, rather large or small, is not always a pleasant experience. Miscues in reading are audible, and often struggling readers are helped so much, they just give up.
Alas, at some point, most children read less aloud in schools and they move to reading silently. Some children have difficulty making this transition, so they begin to subvocalize as they read. For people who work with students’ reading skills, it is acceptable practice to discourage readers from subvocalizing because it may slow a reader down. If a reader goes too slowly, in many cases, comprehension is lost because it takes the reader so long to get through a passage.
So, we encourage students to read aloud when they are learning to read, then we discourage them from subvocalizing, and then often we ask them to read aloud again in their content classes. So reading aloud does not completely go away from students’ daily school days because in order to cover as content, many teachers use reading aloud as a tool to move through material. Many of us can remember reading aloud in school. The technique called Round Robin reading is a staple in many content classrooms. Everyone takes a turn reading a paragraph or two aloud. Good readers briskly move through their paragraphs; challenged readers stumble through theirs. Few listen because they are either counting to see what will be their paragraph, or they just zone out at the monotony of classmates’ words. Teachers hope when students at least hear the information, some will sink into brains.
So reading aloud in academic settings is not always a great thing in many students’ minds. So when I recommend reading aloud when the text becomes difficult, it seems counterintuitive. However, there is something about slowing down just a little to read a sentence aloud that seems to help readers grasp the information they are reading. I quickly tell students they will not read everything aloud, but reading about a very important concept here and there is useful.
The great thing about being an adult reader is one may read aloud, one may read silently, one may subvocalize, or one may do whatever it takes to read and understand. Adults have control over their reading. In other words, adult learners can figure out what works for them. The great thing about an adult reader is he or she has choice. Adult readers can choose to listen to my advice about reading aloud when the text gets difficult, or they may just nod their heads politely and do whatever works for them. Reading is a personal thing, and while a reader might ask for advice about how to read something or may ask for a recommendation for a good book to read, the reader ultimately decides how to proceed.
Note: Next week is Spring Break….yeah. I am making a decision to read something wonderful!