Chap. 9: Read out loud to understand

As much as I love reading, I am actually a poor reader.

I tend to need to read a sentence at least twice to get the meaning, whether it is in my mother tongue or my second or third language.

If you have this same problem, you know how much it sucks and impairs your sense of enjoyment for the work you’re trying to explore.

Back when I was in high school, my parents sent me to many classes to help me build a wide-ranged skill set. One of classes I took was called “Brain lightning” that was supposed to teach students to read faster and remember better. The instructor told me that when reading, your lips should never move with the words, meaning you should be silent. He also noted that using a pen or pencil to guide your eyes along the sentences you’re reading will help you read faster.

These are indeed valid techniques and have helped me in numerous occasions (mainly surviving high school and undergrad work).

However, upon entering Master’s program, these tips lost their lustre. I was reading over 30 paged papers that were so theoretical, I had to read it over 3-4 more times and even then I wasn’t quite sure I understood everything!

I had to find another way to get through the readings to complete my research projects.

This is when I discovered the beauty of reading out loud.

Reading out loud not only keeps you focused on what you’re reading, but also makes you listen to each word used then understand the overall message when your brain combines these words together.

This technique can also be transformed into a sort of role-playing game where you imagine yourself, say in a conference, presenting a very important (read: intellectual) paper in front of an engaged audience. You will feel as if you’re actually doing a presentation and start to adjust your speaking skills accordingly by playing around with the intonation, which is based on your understanding of the essential elements of the text. So you improve on your analytical and oral dexterity!

(Bonus: if your teacher/professor asks you read out loud in class, you can show off your new skills!)

The next time you are confronted with a long boring theoretical paper, try out this technique and see if it does the magic for you. It may actually make the reading kind of fun and exciting.