Guest Blog “Loud and Proud” By Sally McKeown

How often do you read aloud? Unless you are a parent or a teacher there is a good chance that the answer is 'not very often'. However, we require children to read aloud in many different situations and we give them very little guidance on how to do it. Children are often asked to read aloud in class, in assemblies, for school plays and when presenting group work.

With pupil premium funding there is an emphasis on getting pupils to moderate their own learning, to make better judgments about what they are capable of and to understand what they need to do to improve. Audio Notetaker is a useful tool here. It allows pupils to read aloud, record their voices and listen back. As pupils listen to their own reading, they can use one colour for marking parts that they have read well and another colour for phrases that need improvement.

There are lots of children with special educational needs who lack confidence. They might have a stammer or process text very slowly and worry that the class will laugh at them. Some children have poor literacy skills and ironically because of this are asked to read aloud more often in order to measure their progress.

Teachers and parents can help in many ways. Firstly they can model good reading by reading a passage out and recording it in Audio Notetaker. Children can use this as a template to base their own reading on. They can record, listen to and analyse their own speech. Most children learn by imitation but some need more practice. If they have a recording and a transcript of the text they can match symbol and sound, build their word recognition skills and develop an ear for sentences. Play readings can also be useful here – recorded dialogue can be colour-coded with a different colour for each speaker. 

These techniques work well for EAL pupils as they can note where the stress falls on individual words and pick up the 'music' of the language as they hear the rise and fall of the sentences. This activity does not have to be restricted to English however. Those studying a language at GCSE and above can practise and monitor their pronunciation with Audio Notetaker.

Many children find reading aloud to be a hard skill to master but Audio Notetaker can make it less daunting.  While children may not become expert storytellers overnight, plenty of opportunities to practice using recordings may help them overcome their fear of reading aloud.

Sal McKeown is a freelance journalist and author of How to Help your Dyslexic and Dyspraxic Child, published by Crimson.
She has just been given TextHelp's Dyslexia Champion Award 2013 in recognition of going beyond the call of duty to help people with dyslexia and to promote awareness of the issue.

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