How to read aloud

By way of review, as reading aloud forms part of many language teacher education programmes, certain general pointers on how teachers can read aloud to students are listed below. However, how to read aloud will differ according to the specific students being read to, teachers’ instructional objectives and teachers’ personalities and skills.

a.       Choose stories that will appeal to students and, hopefully, to you (the reader) as well.

b.       Consider whether to modify, summarize, or even omit sections of the book which may be less interesting or overly difficult. In other words, there is no need to read the book exactly as it is written.

c.       Consider places in the book where you might wish to vary your reading style, e.g., when a small or large animal is speaking. At certain places, for instance, you may wish to speak louder or softer, faster or slower than normal. This, however, does not mean that teachers must be professional actors to read aloud.

d.       Stop to ask questions, seek comments, etc. Reading aloud should be two-way interaction, with students not just listening to their teachers’ output; students should also be providing input to their teachers and peers. In this way, teachers are reading aloud with students, not reading aloud to students (Blok, 1999).

e.       Practice reading aloud beforehand in order to accomplish points b, c and d.

Traditionally, teachers read aloud to a group or class of students. Any discussion that takes place before, during or after the read aloud is conducted in a teacher-fronted manner, with students directing their input, if any, towards the teacher. However, research and theory in language education and in other areas of education suggest that students can benefit from peer interaction in addition to the input they receive from teachers and the interaction they have with teachers.

        Sections 1-3 of this article have provided a rather lengthy prologue to the main section of the article. Section 4 suggests 12 activities to accompany reading aloud by teachers. In 11 of these activities, reading aloud is augmented by peer power provided by CL.


Section 4: Combining Cooperative Learning with Reading Aloud by Teachers

CL can be used with any age of learner and in any subject area. Furthermore, it can be usefully combined with almost any instructional strategy (for examples, see Jacobs & Gallo, 2002, for how CL can be combined with extensive reading and Jacobs & Small, 2003, for how CL can be combined with dictogloss, a technique for teaching writing). This section presents 12 activities, 11 of which involve CL, to accompany reading aloud by teachers. Included are activities that can be used with fiction and non-fiction, that last for a variety of lengths of time and that can be used with various ages of students. The presentation of each of the activities has two parts. After a brief introduction, first, the Steps are presented, followed by Discussion.

Three of the twelve activities are for before reading aloud, five are for while reading aloud and four are for after reading aloud. However, some of the activities span overlap from one of the three phases of reading aloud to another or may well be useful during more than one phase of a read aloud session. Furthermore, these activities, as with CL techniques generally, can be modified in many ways (Kagan & Kagan, 1992).

Before reading aloud by the teacher

Before reading, teachers often attempt to increase student interest and promote understanding by generating discussion related to the upcoming reading. Here are three CL activities for doing that. The first is a CL technique; the second is a well-known reading technique that has been slightly modified based on CL principles; and the third combines CL with graphic organisers.

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