Reading aloud is a universal concept. It is one of the essential tools used both with and by children to enable them to learn a language as they are developing not only reading skills, but comprehension abilities as well. Many child development professionals have expressed how important reading aloud is for children to develop the capability to speak. Unfortunately, as people age, reading aloud becomes much less frequent. However, the same skills that helps one learn a language as a child can help bridge gaps in learning a foreign language later in life.
Educators have utilized reading aloud as a development tool for many years. Children are often read to as well as given opportunities to practice saying words, learn new vocabulary and develop increased comprehension from reading. People often stop reading aloud as their language and understanding builds. However, even as adults, when we reach a point of something we do not understand, we may instinctively read the phrase aloud to help process the information. This instinct is important and is often forgotten when presented with learning new languages as adults.
Learning a foreign language as an adult is often very challenging. Native languages become as natural as the skin in which one lives. Much like one’s skin, changing a language can feel like an impossible feat. Many people spend a significant amount of time quietly translating a new language into the one most familiar to them inside their heads. This practice is often a hindrance in learning a new language. While scanning foreign words and internally translating can seem like an accomplishment, it does not provide in-depth comprehensive of the target language.
Reading aloud, however, helps build comprehension and starts to bridge the gap between recognizing a language and learning. When reading aloud, one’s mother tongue will not be the one in the readers mind. The sound of their voice and the foreign words will be all that is heard.
Reading aloud is an oral practice that helps in learning a foreign language in these fundamental ways:
- The reader will begin to recognize their voice when speaking a new language. Vocalizing is a basic concept because to learn a language, one must practice speaking. Hearing one’s voice speaking in another tongue will help bridge the gap from conceptualizing a language to using it.
- Reading aloud helps remove doubt. When speaking a new language, one often has to recall concepts and complex structures. Reading prepared words can bridge the gap in learning how to apply phrases and remove self-doubt.
- Improving pronunciation. Studying a language means listening to others speak. When one reads, we mentally say the words to ourselves. Vocalizing our words helps one realize whether the ability to pronounce the words correctly is a developed skill.
- It increases listening skills. When speaking a language, at some point, one will have to listen to someone else respond. Speaking aloud allows one to hear themselves and maintain the new sounds associated with the target language in their minds.
- Vocalizing words and phrases provide the opportunity for self-correction. When one reaches a concept or word they do not understand, reading aloud can help make it more apparent. The realization that something is not known allows for a different level of research into the ideas that are not being comprehended.
As adults, reading aloud starts to feel less important. However, it is an innate practice used to increase comprehension of any concept. It is one of the first ways that language skills are developed as children. The early development skill has the same usefulness when learning a new language as adults. It helps one stop internally translating and start listening to the target language itself for full comprehension. Reading aloud is a skill that one should regularly utilize, but especially when learning a new language.
Opinion by Gichele Cocrelle
Reach out and Read.org: Importance of Reading Aloud
GSTF International Journal on Education: Does Reading Aloud Improve Foreign Language Learner’s speaking ability
ReadWriteThink: Teacher Read-Alouds That Models Reading for Deep Understanding
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