The official website of educator & arts patron Jack C Richards

Does reading aloud help children to acquire language?

Question:

submitted by Samantha Quintana, Copei-Casa Grande University, Ecuador

Do you consider that using reading aloud would help children to acquire better the language? How important is it?

Dr Richards Responds:

In considering the role of reading aloud we need to consider it in relation to the context in which it is being used. In the case of teaching reading skills per se, reading aloud can lead to inefficient reading strategies. A good reader reads silently without vocalizing the words he or she reads. Reading aloud encourages learners to vocalize words as they read and sends the message that every word is equally important in a text: it discourages skimming, scanning, reading for main ideas and so on.

However when working with other skills (e.g. speaking and listening), reading aloud can help students focus on problematic features of their English (e.g. such as pronouncing final consonants, linking sounds etc.) So sometimes I ask students to look a text, find examples of consonant clusters, linked sounds, final consonants etc, and then to read the text aloud to focus on these sounds. In pairs students also take turns reading a short text aloud, monitoring their partner’s production of certain sounds. This activity has nothing to do with reading per se but is a speaking activity, using a written text as a source of input.