Reading out loud is a brilliant strategy to remember things. If you have ever worked with students who have Autism, you might have observed that they often remember the material based on something that they saw, because they have a photographic memory in connecting their reading to long-term retention or memory.
Overall, children with Autism benefit greatest from reading out loud, because they rely primarily on visual memory, such as the pictures that surround the content in the curriculum, requiring an additional step of connecting the words to a series of pictures, or moving pictures already stored in their memory to grasp comprehension.
Even typically developing learners rely on their visual memory, such as pictures in a book, real life events, or similar stories to make memory connections more rapid. Comparatively, students cannot rely only on visual memory to retain content, because it often leaves many gaps in learning, creating the need to find other ways to remember things. Moreover, reading out loud is helpful because of the auditory links in the brain, our memory pathway is accelerated when we read out loud. In consequence, students who read out loud have a greater chance of remembering because of the duplicative visual and auditory link involved.
Try a little experiment in your classroom or at home cooking with your child, for example. Prior to having students perform an activity, ask them to read the list, or steps in the directions out loud. On another day, before beginning an activity ask the child or group of children to read the directions silently. Amazingly, most have observed that children instructed to read out loud are able to remember all of the steps in the directions, or steps in a process. The reason for this is the connection to visually seeing the words, with an “activated” auditory pathway of hearing the words, and that creates an immediate link to retention and memory.
Reading out loud has been observed to have the following results:
- Sharpens Focus (attention to detail, grammar)
- Increases Vocabulary
- Results in Greater Comprehension
- Challenges Use of Intonation
- Improves Listening and Reading Fluency
While it is true that there are other processes involved in the reading process, such as categorizing, asking questions, and making connections to organize material in a child’s schema, the question most teachers would find challenging is having a lot of students at one time reading out loud might seemingly be viewed as chaotic and distracting?
Perhaps, perhaps not? If, as a teacher or parent, an explanation as to the benefits of reading out loud, the actual reason or logic to the strategy, can be both encouraging and motivating to learners. There is nothing wrong with helping students to develop a lifelong beneficial reading strategy! Hence, if muttering quietly to oneself for remembering things, such as the steps in sequence to a recipe while cooking, appears a bit odd, recognize the behavior as a defined adaptive strategy that is effective for both children and adults.
If you are still not convinced that reading out loud makes you smarter, check out the following sources: