Monday, June 20, 2011

Reading Compositions Aloud

Question: What are the advantages of having students read their compositions aloud?

Answer/Quote: “One of the most successful techniques I use in the classroom is to require my students to read aloud their written material. After 28 years of teaching English, I’ve come to value this requirement because it accomplishes so many course objectives. It lessens the fear of public speaking. It instills a sense of ownership and pride in the creation of a written work. (Students’ concern for their writing increases dramatically when they know the class will hear and critique their work.) It helps students comprehend content. It increases vocabulary. It improves language and speaking skills. It has been found to raise reading test scores…. It forces students to proofread, and we all need to hear our work to understand and appreciate the flow of language.” P. 184.

The author goes on to discuss principles of presentation:

. “The speaker must not begin reading until the listeners are ready, settled in, and looking at the speaker. Listeners are not to take notes or do other work during students presentations. Listeners are encouraged to provide feedback in two areas either orally or in writing: content of material (did it accomplish the purpose of the assignment) and presentation (did it maintain the audience’s attention).”

. “If any parts are especially entertaining, the speaker should wait for the audience to finish reactions….”

. “The speaker needs to make eye contact often, as people like to be read to, not at.”

. “The reading rate must be slower than in conversation.”

. “The presenter needs to speak in a voice loud enough to reach every corner of the room.”

. “The speaker should use facial expressions: smile, frown, gasp, show surprise, anger, suspense.”

. “Reading aloud is a performing art, and the reader must bring some sense of enthusiasm and energy to the work.”

Comment: I think one of the forgotten skills in the secondary classroom is learning to read aloud effectively. The author’s idea of having students read their compositions aloud is excellent—and functional. But don’t forget to teach students how to prepare for reading aloud-through practice, practice and practice. RayS.

Title: “The Reading-Aloud of Ninth-Grade Writing.” KA Megyeri. Journal of Reading (November 1993), 184-190.

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