Are you ready to hear the study tip that makes me sound like a crazy person? Oh, you are? Fantastic! Here it is: I read my textbooks out loud to myself. But that’s weird, you say? Yes. It is weird. And also weirdly effective. I started doing it about a year ago because, just like everyone else, I was having a hard time concentrating and comprehending the material. I just wanted to make myself pay attention. But then I started researching it… and reading out loud does SO much more than just keep you from drifting off into La La Land (aka my favorite place)!
Think about all of the speeches that you’ve had to give over your educational career so far… I bet you can STILL recall some of that information! And (aside from the fact that you practiced for hours because you didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of your class) THAT can be attributed to the benefits of reading out loud! Think about the biggest issue(s) that you have while reading right now! There is a huge chance that reading the material out loud can help you!
If you have a hard time comprehending, reading out loud to yourself can increase your comprehension because you are actively reading as well as hearing the information! Sometimes when I’m reading out loud, I realize that something doesn’t make sense right away. Because I am reading it, speaking it, and hearing it all at the same time, it’s just easier to say “Hold the phone… what?!”. Then I can re-read, look up a word, Google it, whatever I need to do to comprehend the concept right away!
If you have a hard time focusing, reading out loud to yourself will cut down on your distractions since you have more than one sense involved in this activity. This is because you are actively engaged in the process. You are speaking. You are listening. And you are reading all at the same time. And it’s much more difficult to notice the refrigerator humming or your neighbors (or husband) screaming at the football game on TV when you’re so involved in your current task!
If you’re reading in your second (or third or fourth) language, reading out loud can enhance your vocabulary AND increase your fluency and literacy because it will help you learn new words and word patterns in that language! Reading out loud helps you practice reciting and repeating common phrases in your new language, which will improve your comfort level speaking and your grammar! (I’m pretty sure the Grammar Police are international).
If you have a hard time remembering what you read, reading out loud can help you create memories. Not only that, but reading things out loud in different voices or tones will help them stand out even more in your memory (and really give your nosy neighbors something to talk about)! This article on Psychology Today refers to it as the "Production Effect". If you speak something rather than just reading it, you have a much better chance of remembering!
If you have trouble sitting still, reading out loud helps because it exercises your body while you read. I don’t know about you, but I am a HUGE fan of talking with my hands. Reading from a textbook doesn’t change that at all, either! Not only that, but when we speak, we tend to sit up a little straighter, project our voices, and really focus on what we’re saying! And don’t be afraid to stand while you’re reading aloud or walk around the room! There’s no rule that says you have to sit like a statue in order to learn!
If you’re a “slow reader,” reading out loud can boost your fluency which will eventually result in being able to read text more quickly! Also, don’t feel discouraged if you need to read a paragraph/section more than once! Repeated Reading, as that is called, can do awesome things for your fluency AND comprehension!
If you have a hard time getting past unfamiliar words, reading out loud can help you because you are actively using the word in context already. How many times have you been able to figure out an unfamiliar word from a conversation or movie simply through the context in which it was used? It makes it pretty easy, right? If you’re the one using it in context, it has that same beneficial effect!
Have you ever tried reading your textbooks out loud to yourself? Do you think it’s something you might try now? Do you have any of the problems listed above while reading? If so, how else do you deal with it?!