Read aloud or silently?

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Joe Dispenza
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Read aloud or silently?

Last update: 24 March, 2022

Which way of studying is easier for you? Many people study in silence, others prefer to read aloud. If you are among the latter, probably after reading or learning the notions, you express them verbally; more than a monologue, you could start a real conversation with yourself. But what is more effective: reading aloud or silently?


We actually suggest using both methods, in fact as we will find out reading aloud or silently serves to develop different aspects. Although each of us tends to prefer and give more importance to one of the two, let's see how they are both useful.


Studying in silence and visual memory

When we study in silence, the ideal is to carry out a first reading aimed at capturing the general meaning of the text we are dedicating ourselves to. Of course, the study cannot stop there. After this first reading, it is important to underline the key points, stop on what is unclear and reflect or look elsewhere for information to help dispel doubts.

Underlining and taking notes in the margins is fundamental, even using colored markers, as it helps to stimulate our visual memory (remember that the localization of information facilitates the recovery process, that is, making it re-emerge from our memory). The use of colors also allows us to pay more attention, to focus on the parts of the text that we considered most important.

To better fix the concepts, the silent reading must be completed with summaries and diagrams.

 

The importance of studying in silence is that we can concentrate deeply on the text in front of us; however, reading itself will not be of much use. In fact, it is necessary to work actively with the element of study, to make it our own. Not only by reading, but also by taking notes, noting, writing in our own words what we are assimilating. Hence the idea that studying aloud has much more to offer us.



Reading aloud sharpens knowledge

When we read aloud, a different mechanism takes place: the ear begins to be part of this experience, favoring the awakening of cognitive abilities related to memory, attention, understanding ... This action activates the ability to retain and store information that reaches the brain.

However, as with silent reading, more happens ... Why is it so much easier for us to hear an explanation from someone else's mouth than to read notes? This happens because we are able to give personal value to the concepts we read, we interpret them with different words, giving rise to other questions, doubts, debates. This phenomenon enriches the study and favors the mnemonic process.

Reading aloud allows us to make connections. Suddenly, we happen to connect what we are saying with a concept read before or on another page. We create a mental scheme to support written schemes or reading carried out in a low voice. It is a perfect complementary element to refine knowledge and engrave it in our mind.

The benefits of listening to yourself

The two great researchers Colin MacLeod and Noah Farrin have dedicated themselves to the study of the effects of reading aloud and its relationship with learning. Since 2010 they have dedicated themselves to this area until they publish one of their researches entitled “The benefits of listening to oneself” in the magazine Memory.

The research involved 100 students from the University of Waterloo, Canada, who were given 80 words that they had to reproduce aloud. Most of them wrote down the words they didn't remember for safety.


The next test involved the analysis of 4 different methods to remember the terms: reading them silently, listening to them by recording the voice of other people, listening to them by recording their own voice or, finally, reading them aloud.



The results were surprising and the authors came to coin the so-called "production effect". Two weeks after the test, participants were given a series of words to indicate whether they were part of those read or memorized during the test. People who had read aloud gave more accurate answers.

Reading aloud allows us to give a personal character to what we are reading, which allows us to remember it better.

However, it has also been found that listening to recordings of your own voice helps. The third most effective method has turned out to be listening to recordings in the voice of others, which suggests that the more personal the recording, the easier it is to remember.

While reading aloud is a great option, we can't completely dismiss the others; often the purpose of the study is to memorize material with meaning and not single words. A combination of various methods can lead to more satisfying results.


Some people prefer to study in silence or record themselves reading a text and then listen to each other again. Others choose to read aloud right away, and then study in silence by writing or making outlines on the notions learned. It all consists in adopting the methodology that allows each of us to obtain the greatest return.

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