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Reading Out Loud Tips for ESL and EFL Students

Paul has spent many years teaching English as a foreign and second language. He has taught EFL in Taiwan and Thailand, and ESL in the U.S.

Author as an EFL Teacher

Taken in 2009.

Taken in 2009.

Why is Reading Out Loud Important for ESL and EFL Students?

Reading out loud is an excellent method for improving an ESL or EFL student's reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. The problem is that most students don't like to read out loud. Motivating the unwilling student to read out loud will reap long-term benefits in the form of a more proficient ESL or EFL learner.

Advantages Of Reading Out Loud

I was not an advocate of having students read out loud until I realized it could improve proficiency in all four language skills. Without actually reading out loud, reading can be a very boring passive skill. By reading out loud, my students actively use the language, and English becomes more interesting and exciting. This is especially the case when the student has a teacher reading articles and stories that make the language come to life through intonation, stress on words, the tone of voice, and all the theatrics involved in reciting a movie script.

My students who have read out loud have also improved their vocabulary and writing skills. By reciting words, expressions, and sentences, a student is more likely to remember and understand the language than by just passively glancing at it. If a student reads out loud, he or she improves sentence structure fluency. This is done by grouping the correct number of words with both the subject and predicate of a sentence. If this is done, it will carry over to writing and help the student in writing better sentences and paragraphs.

Why Don't Students Like Reading Out Loud?

Having established the importance of reading out loud, the problem exists in getting students to get up out of their seats and read out loud in front of the class. Many students dread doing this for various reasons. The primary reasons are shyness, lack of self-confidence, and not wanting to be embarrassed in front of their classmates. This being the case, it falls on the teacher to think of a way to motivate students to read out loud.

Steps To Motivate Students To Read Out Loud

If you accept the hypothesis that students are non-motivated to read out loud due to fear of peer rejection or disapproval, I feel the following steps would help motivate them to want to read out loud:

1. Show Attention To A Student:

All students demand attention, and the wise teacher must give it to them. Many behavior problems are caused by students seeking attention. The teacher can give students attention by calling out their names in class, looking and smiling at them, and also by engaging the students in class activities.

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2. Make A Student Feel Important:

Every person likes to feel important. A teacher can make students feel important by first remembering and using their names often in class. Next, the teacher should often call on students when they raise their hands in class. A wise teacher could also allow students to assist in classroom routine chores such as erasing the board or passing out papers to students. When students do well on a test or homework exercise, the teacher should praise the students in front of their peers, or write comments such as "excellent" or "nicely done" on tests or homework.

3. Instill Self-confidence In The Student:

Feeling important will go a long way in instilling self-confidence in a student. In reading out loud, many students with some self-confidence will come to the front of the class to read at the urging of their classmates. If students have only a little bit of self-confidence, the teacher should stand next to them when they read out loud or have the students invite friends to read out loud with them. While the students are reading, the teacher should be lavish with praise to enhance the student's self-confidence.

4. Extrinsic Reward Of Peer and Teacher Approval:

Finally, after students have read out loud in class, I ask the whole class whether the students are good readers. If the students have put on a good performance, most of the class will say that the students are good readers. I will then add that the students are excellent readers and that they should be considered for entering a speaking contest. You can't imagine the smile of satisfaction that appears on the student's faces when they hear those words of praise. The next time I asked for volunteers to read out loud in class, these students were the first ones to volunteer.

Reading out loud should be emphasized in EFL and ESL classrooms. If we remember that most students are driven by extrinsic rewards of teacher and peer approval, we will be able to motivate our students to read out loud.

What Is Motivation?

Motivation is an ambition that pushes a person to work hard and achieve a goal. It can be either intrinsic or extrinsic. An intrinsically motivated person is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the work which he or she is doing. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, comes from outside the individual. For a student, it could be the rewards of getting good grades or praise from their peers. It could also be the punishment of failure or ridicule by peers. Many students are unmotivated to read out loud. I strongly suspect that it is for the extrinsic reason of fear of peer rejection.

Motivating Students to Read Out Loud

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn

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