Reading Aloud Gives Written Words Power

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Reading Aloud
The power of spoken words is limitless when revising written work by reading aloud. Revising by reading aloud gives written words power when they are said and acknowledged. It can stimulate and motivate your neurological thought processes and improve other key areas such as verbal skills, self-confidence, and editing. Peter Elbow, an English professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, implements a very simple yet effective rule with his students when it comes to proofreading their own work, ‘all written work must be read aloud before being submitted.’

Professor Elbow has stated, “Everyday speech is usually informal and often disjointed, but the practice of revising by reading aloud steers our writing away from what’s chaotic to what’s well formed.” To take it up a notch to produce your best work, it is suggested to read in front of other people. Three grammatical errors can be heard instantly:

  • Repetition of words
  • Interruptions that impede understanding and the natural flow of Syntax
  • Long winded language

Personally, growing up as a multiracial child and being around family members with strong accents, and a few who only spoke a foreign language, my cultural background made it intensely difficult for me to grasp the concept of writing and speaking proper English. The language which I mastered was Spanglish (Spanish and English) with a hint of a Caribbean accent. My homemade native language later contributed to a fear of public speaking.

reading aloudThanks to my mother, she was able to provide me chances to attend all kinds of penmanship classes, reading programs at our local library, as well as at my school, orchestra, sports, chorus, and performing arts organizations. She always tried to incorporate language with the arts to help me improve my reading and writing, stimulate my brain, as well as help me gain confidence to speak and perform in front of others.

Revising by reading aloud gives written words power. When you continually practice reading aloud, regardless if it is reading it to yourself, a family member, or a friend, you will be able to pick up on grammar flaws quickly. Moreover, your brain will register the mistakes and ultimately advance your memory. You can also tell if your content is lacking when you read aloud. Did you have the power to captivate your audience and retain their attention, or did you put the room into a deep slumber by losing their interest midway through?

Professor Elbow stated, “No listener would ever mistake reading aloud with ordinary conversational speaking. So too, when we revise our writing by reading it aloud we seldom come up with everyday speech. The process makes our written sentences sayable, but they are seldom, sentences we say… Revising by mouth and ear often give us language a bit more elevated than everyday speech– sometimes even slightly artificial.”

According to OWL, an online writing lab at Purdue University, “Proofreading is primarily about searching your writing for errors, both grammatically and typographically.”  A few key tips in addition to reading aloud to make sure your words come across strongly are:

  • To track frequent errors
  • Make sure each sentence has a subject, complete verb, and independent clause.
  • Do not rely on your computer’s ‘spellcheck’
  • Check for run-on sentences

When you have reader-focused writing, you need to get inside of your reader’s mind and determine what is important to you as well as your reader. Revising by reading aloud gives the written words power when you can connect with them emotionally.

Opinion By Jhayla D. Tyson
Edited By Leigh Haugh

Peter Elbow: Revising by Reading Aloud. What the Mouth and Ear Know
Write With Taste: That Doesn’t Sound Right! Revising ‘Out Loud’
Owl English Purdue: Finding Common Errors

Image Sources:
Feature Image Courtesy of dbwalker Flickr Page – Creative Common License
Inside Image Courtesy of JCSU Library Flickr Page – Creative Common License

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