Demo Friday: How to properly integrate “Reading Aloud” in classroom.
As long as I remember, the implementation of reading aloud has been presented as a didactic technique in education. Some of the English teachers I had in high school carried out this procedure either for the practice of student’s pronunciation or as a way of punishment when students were not paying attention in class. The integration of reading aloud in the classroom never went beyond to something stronger or meaningful for learners. From my experience I can say this procedure has not been correctly applied in any form; reading aloud should be significant to learners and not only an excuse teachers use for the “participation” of students. For that reason, I would like to share a particular lesson of the Methods and Approaches class, where I learned how to properly integrate this method thanks to Professor Raúl A. Mora, Ph.D.
Reading aloud is not helpful to improve student´s reading comprehension, at least not in the way is normally used in education with the round robin reading. For example, teachers usually assign students to read aloud a whole text or maybe a paragraph; thus, one student reads first, thus another, and finally the full text is read but no one understood at all. So, what is the purpose of it? Are students really learning something relevant? Clearly, students are not acquiring significant knowledge using this method.
It is true that reading aloud helps students to practice their pronunciation, to learn new vocabulary or even to develop a better use of orthography. Yet the purpose of reading is that students construct reasonable and accurate meaning of what is read. Students should be able to explain in their own words what has been read as an evidence of comprehension. The “Round robin reading” cannot simply reach that goal. Nevertheless there are two possible ways to integrate reading aloud in class, and these are focused on interaction and the use of strategies that one may to develop meaningful learning processes.
Firstly, we have the storytelling alternative. Therefore I would like to acknowledge that this option is efficient and outright positive for any kind of student. It consists of telling a story in a manner every person listening is engaged and paying attention. The reader is not just simply reading a boring paragraph which no one comprehends. On the contrary, the reader is taking over a story with an extraordinary performance, thus the reader is creating a histrionic/theatrical climate where no person is disinterested or dull. Besides, the reader uses different voices and facial expressions to establish a connection with the class, he also reads with respective and suspenseful pauses creating an entertaining atmosphere while listeners enjoy and have fun.
As a result, listeners are constantly involved, they are always concentrated and absorbed by the story because they find it interesting. The connection developed between readers and the audience increase, magically all the participants understand as well as they comprehend what the story is about. In addition, this alternative helps to expand reading comprehension in learners as long as they assimilate information while they use prior knowledge to acquire new.
Finally, we have the think-aloud alternative. It consists of something similar to the previous method: The purpose is to talk about a reading while or after is read. Readers engage then with the use of reading strategies (Reciprocal Teaching) in order to analyze the content of a text. It works as an interactive process between two or more participants, they ask themselves questions to understand better, they predict, they summarize and they make inferences about the most important aspects of the reading. After that, learners can express some thoughts in relation to what they understood from the passage, they become active in the process creating proper speaking conditions to practice and share.