"It is easier to build a strong child than to repair a broken man." - Frederick Douglass

Reading Aloud Builds Writing and Character

Reading Aloud
Courtesy of Matthew Roth (Flickr CC0)

Reading aloud provides a multitude of advantages and improvements. Improvements build a comfortable way of speaking and writing for the reader and the listeners. The University of Massachusetts Professor Peter Elbow believes “readers will find your writing clearer and more inviting when your language is comfortable to speak aloud.” This provides a healthy and productive literary setting for the listener and reader.

Elbow also believes that when students have “repeated experience” with reading aloud, they are able to write more inviting and comfortable sentences. The Professor has classes read both first and final drafts of their writing throughout a course.

This is for the purpose of getting into a flow of routine and repetition, while at the end it is used as a means of celebration and presentation of their work. During this process Elbow uses micro exercises as a means of motivation and help improve a reader’s confidence to read aloud, creating a healthy learning environment for the readers in a classroom setting.

Although Elbow is all for improving students reading with his classroom methods, he also aims to build their writing as well. He uses the same method for improvement for reading as he does for writing — reading it aloud. He believes that in doing so you as the reader can notice mistakes in your writing, better understood through his quote “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.”

Our Speech in Writing

The Massachusetts Professor is suggesting that how we speak is much different than how we write and that through revision we are able to separate ourselves as readers from that chaos of informal language.

Reading Aloud
Courtesy of Penn State (Flickr CC0)

Elbow suggests that sentences are to have a specific and traditional structure, with the second sentence providing information for the first sentence. Only after that has been completed, are you able to provide new information.

Juanita Lewis of the Guardian Liberty Voice suggests that “Reading aloud is the key to improving your written work, as well as becoming a better reader. A focused reader produces better-written work. This cyclical relationship with the craft is a guarantee for success.” The two are in a way mutually exclusive, inseparable like peanut butter and jelly. By sharpening the skills of reading writing will follow.

Lewis supports the practice of reading aloud to improve your writing but, that you must be willing to make a fool of yourself in doing so. She states that “a writer must embrace being open and unafraid of sounding foolish.” The Guardian Liberty Voice writer states that it will only have a positive and productive effect on your writing.

They note that you must “Have confidence in the strength of your voice, no matter what you have to say, and it will only help your written work.”  This means that you must have a fearless and open mind, though at times you will sound silly, it is a necessary task in order to improve your writing as a whole.

How Reading Aloud effects Our Brain

Reading aloud allows the reader to use different parts of their brain. In Rowena Portch’s Guardian Liberty Voice article “Reading Aloud Uses Other Parts of the Brain” she says that writing is written in a “conversational tone” is better received by readers.

Portch supports this stance with a quote from Writer’s digest, which states “reading aloud also gives the writer insight into how their readers will perceive and understand their work.” By providing a welcoming and active conversational tone in your writing, you give the reader a way to relate and connect with your work more.

These different functions for reading aloud not only improve your writing but, also builds confidence and pride in your writing. The writer must be willing to take risks in order to improve their work, abandoning the fear of feeling silly and allowing themselves to make mistakes while reading aloud. This will mold both character and skills for a writer, as they become more comfortable and consistent in producing writing they are proud of and confident within the ears of the audience.

Opinion by Mikal Eggleston

Edited by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

University of Massachusetts: Elbow, Peter, “11. Revising by Reading Aloud. What the Mouth and Ear Know” (2010). Emeritus Faculty Author Gallery. Paper 29. ScholarWorks@UMassAmherst.

Guardian Liberty Voice: Reading Aloud Uses Other Parts of the Brain; by Rowena Portch

Guardian Liberty Voice: Reading Aloud Unlocks the Writer Within; by Juanita Lewis

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Matthew Roth’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Inline Image Courtesy of Penn State’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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