Students need to be able to sound out words accurately. Reading along with audio recordings of articles can help them develop this skill, especially with multi-syllabic words, words that they have not encountered before in print, or words that they know but only orally. The teacher should pick an article at a level where the student has trouble with individual words, so that he or she can hear them again and again. Ask the student to keep listening and saying the troublesome words aloud until she or he is ready to perform for you (or the class).
Students need to be able to read sentences fluently. Fluent readers know how to chunk out sentences into phrases and clauses, when to pause, which words to emphasize, and where to change voice pitch. Reading along with audio recordings can help them develop this skill. The teacher should pick an article at a level where the student can pronounce most words but reads choppily and with consistently inaccurate emphasis or pitch. Ask the student to read along silently and aloud until she or he is ready to perform for you (or the class).
If the student reads over commas and periods, or stops at the end of printed lines, ask her or him to mark the page with slashes (/) where a short pause is heard or double slashes (//) where a long pause is heard. The teacher could also ask the student to underline words that appear to be emphasized, or places where the voice in the audio goes up or down.
Remember, the more easily a student can read with accuracy and fluency (i.e., with “automaticity”) the more mental energy she or he can apply to comprehension.
One final note: Privately reading along with an oral recording allows shyer students to practice without social anxiety.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are selected articles from The Change Agent now available in audio?
We responded to subscribers’ request to create audio versions of The Change Agent articles. With computers in many classrooms and teachers dealing with multiple skill levels, these audio clips help learners work independently on their reading, listening, and speaking skills.
How does listening to audio improve adults’ reading skills?
Research in reading has shown that adult reading students need to hear text read aloud in order to improve their own reading. By listening to audio readings of text, students are better able to build their prosody skills (understanding how phrases build into sentences, and how punctuation guides phrasing) as well as single word pronunciation skills. The Change Agent’s audios are set up so that students can focus on texts sentence by sentence, and can repeat audio clips that they need to hear again. If they are able to work at separate work stations, they can practice reading text aloud to themselves using the audios as a guide.
How should students use the audio?
Simply click on the “play” button (the arrow on the left of each block of text). Listen to the text being read aloud while following along with the text on the screen. Students can choose to listen once then say it aloud themselves and then listen again. Or they can read aloud along with the audio. Or they can just listen. Experiment with what works.
Your readers sound like ordinary people, not professional actors.
Right! We believe there are benefits to hearing a mixture of voices and accents, which reflect real life and everyday interactions. Would you (whether you are a student or a teacher or whether English is your first language or not) like to record some audio for The Change Agent? We would love to bring more voices into our audio. Please contact us if you are interested.