Reading Aloud An Integral Part of English Learning
Rosemary Schmid Shares Insights From Her Approach
Rosemary Schmid, of UNC-Charlotte, in Charlotte, North Carolina,
recently posted a comment on the TESL-L listserv regarding appropriate
uses of reading out loud in ESL classrooms. She has agreed to share
her remarks with the readers of ESL MiniConference Online. See also related articles on warnings against reading out loud
as well as a call for rethinking the bias against this activity.
I have recommended reading aloud to my students, and I have
even asked students to read aloud in class. In addition, I read
TO my students, especially the beginning readers - adults.
Here's my thinking:
I suggest that the students read aloud to themselves, while taping
themselves. Then, they should read that text again, but with
"mouth closed, ears open", so that they can begin to "hear" when
they read, an essential, I think to deeper understanding of what
is being read in more complex texts. They have already met the material
the students take turns reading aloud, sometimes a
new paragraph, and sometimes the paragraph that was just read. The
second time the same paragraph is read, the pronunciation is often
better. The initial reader is NOT expected to understand what he
or she just read, but the other members of the class are. And, they
are reading along silently while a classmate reads.
In class, and on tape,
with beginning readers especially, but also with intermediate and
even advanced readers for different reasons, I read to the
students. (I have had the experience Dave Kees mentions of having
to look up the pronunciation of a word I've never heard spoken!
If it happens in class, it's a good time to explain again the
differences in written language, and spoken language written down.)
So many times I have watched comprehension grow on someone's face
when their mind connects the heard word with the written word.
With more difficult materials, if the writer is "good", the
music/intonation of spoken English helps in understanding the
material. If the writer is "not so good" (some materials for
native speakers definitely fit this category), my intonation
(since we've already talked about attending to intonation) becomes
an aid to comprehension.
I also prepare students before reading with some key pronunciation,
if I think it might be useful, and there has always been some
listening and speaking about meaning before reading.
My advantage, of course, is that I am a native speaker of
midwestern American English, teaching in an Intensive English
Program in the USA, but I applaud the careful use of "reading
Reported by Rosemary Schmid, English Language Training Institute
Charlotte, North Carolina
2002 ESL MiniConference Online