Why teachers should read aloud to older students
Research has shown that reading aloud benefits older students as much as younger students. Source: Shutterstock

Reading aloud in class is normally associated with younger students in elementary or primary school.

But research is showing that students in middle and secondary school, and even university, can also benefit from being read to aloud.

According to Edutopia, the benefits of hearing books read aloud include improved comprehension, reduced stress and greater exposure to different types of materials.

In a time where literacy rates are dropping, teachers should leave no stones unturned when it comes to effective ways to encourage reading.

Here are a few ways that reading aloud benefits older students, both in their academics and on a personal level.

Encourages diversity and inclusivity

When a teacher reads a particular text out loud, students from all different backgrounds find certain themes in books relatable, and because it’s happening to characters and not themselves, they feel more comfortable talking about the issues.

This means reading aloud can serve as an important tool to promote diversity and inclusivity, as books can be a great opportunity to get students to explore these themes.

Teacher Kasey Short wrote on Edutopia, “Blended, by Sharon Draper, provides an opportunity to discuss code-switching, divorce, racism, police prejudice, and the biracial experience. Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate, tells a beautiful story through the eyes of a tree and provides an opportunity to discuss religious tolerance, Islamophobia, and friendship.”

As students are listening to the books being read aloud as a whole rather than individually, they are sharing a communcal experience.

Improves vocabulary and comprehension

Have you ever mispronounced a word because you’ve never actually heard it, only read it? Reading aloud to students is a good way to teach proper intonation and pronounciation.

According to Center for Teaching, “Reading aloud gives students an opportunity to hear the instructor model fluency and expression in reading technical or literary language.”

It also improves their vocabulary as when a teacher reads aloud, students can pick up new words and learn the meaning through context, which is more effective than simply memorising words.

Promotes a love for reading

Students with low literacy skills often find reading and writing difficult, which can often be demotivating and stop them continuing tasks.

Listening to a story can help students engage without the added pressure of comprehending difficult words.

As an article by Arkansas State University explains, “The independent reading level of many students may lag significantly behind their comprehension of advanced vocabulary and concepts. They may not be able to recognize words and read them on their own, but they have no problem understanding what the text says.

“By hearing more advanced texts read aloud, students gain access to information that interests them but may be beyond their reading level.”

Reduces stress levels

When students are asked to listen to a story being read out loud, research shows that they settle down quickly and can find it soothing.

According to I See Me, “When reading, we challenge our imaginations to create the events described on the page. This engagement drags our attention away from real-world stressors and focuses the mind in a way other forms of relaxation simply cannot. Reading out loud to kids distracts them from their own concerns and anxieties just as effectively. ”

Teaches valuable life lessons

Talking to older students and teenagers about issues such as teen pregnancy, drugs and addiction can be difficult.

Books can bring up these issues in a way that makes students more comfortable as they aren’t directly involved.

As stated by HuffPost, “Reading a story together about a pregnant teen, such as Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones, or a teen who struggles with addiction, such as Go Ask Alice, can be a poignant but safe way to learn about life without lectures. Use read aloud sessions to generate discussion and explore feelings, ideas and social issues.”

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