By reading the text aloud, the teacher provides a full support for struggling readers and makes the text more accessible for them. When students get to look at the text while listening to someone read it, they can process the information more effectively and understand how it should be read.
Reading aloud helps students develop language sense (as they hear the ways words are used, pronounced, and interpreted). A more knowledgeable other’s way of emphasizing and pausing at appropriate places shows students how punctuation and different sentence structures contribute to the meaning of the text.
What books to choose
- Books and texts that are relevant to students’ lives and are age-appropriate.
- Diverse materials (books, magazine and newspaper articles, directions and instructions, etc.).
- A chapter book (you can read a chapter a day/week as an on-going activity).
- Kid’s picture books (you can find the ones that are interesting for students of all ages).
- Poetry and Plays (you can read the latter as Readers’ Theater).
- Books that you yourself enjoy which will help you make them more enjoyable for students as well.
- Books that fit with your instructional objectives.
When to read aloud
- When introducing texts with new or difficult concepts or language.
- When you don’t have a copy of the text for every student in class (for example, an article from the morning paper or the latest magazine, or an individual book that only a teacher has).
- When you want students to be engaged and their attention to be focused.
- At the beginning (an opener) or at the end of the class (a wrap-up activity).
- Once a week (for example, each Friday) to make it a special day for reading. This will help students to have a memorable experience.
- Teacher to a whole class.
- Teacher to a small group.
- Students to a whole class.
- Students to a small group.
How to read aloud
- Make sure that students are sitting comfortably. You can arrange a reading circle or reading rugs to set a relaxed atmosphere for the read aloud.
- Don’t force students to read aloud, invite and encourage them to try it. When students feel comfortable and safe, they will be willing to participate voluntarily.
- Read in such a way that students will not be bored by the book. Read with expression controlling your pitch and volume. Try to assume a different voice for each character.
- Make frequent eye contact to further involve your listeners.
- Occasionally stop reading and ask students clarifying questions about a word, a phrase or an idea to check their comprehension.
- If you come across words that might be difficult or unfamiliar for the students, write them on the board and explain what they mean in this context.
- Ask students to tell you in their own words what has happened in the story so far.
- Try to end your reading at a suspenseful point in the story.
- Prepare some follow-up (after-reading) activities for students to do.
What students do while they listen
- If students have a copy of the read-aloud text, they follow along while the text is being read.
- Students must be paying attention to the read-aloud text. Do not allow them to draw pictures or do their homework.
- Make guesses and predictions about what is going to happen in the story next.
- Relate the information from the text to what they already know from the previous studies.
- Take notes of the most important points in the story, or the most essential information of the expository text.
- Summarize what happened in the story or the information from the text.
It is important not to use reading aloud as a replacement for independent reading. Both kinds of reading are important for the development of students’ reading skills.
If you find the text to be rich in meaning and language, you can make it available for students to read again and again in small groups or individually. Having the text recorded on a tape for this purpose is a great idea.