Reading Aloud Vs Reading Silently; Benefits Of Reading

Categories: Reading

Proofreading aloud or silently is usually left up to one’s preference but whether one or the other is factually more efficient in identifying errors has yet to be determined. Identifying one’s more efficient proofreading strategy is paramount to success in writing tasks throughout both school and general life. There were 287 Participants between the ages of 18 and 65 gathered through convenience sampling in the San Bernardino, CA area with 48% of participants identifying as male and 52% of participants identifying as female. 70% of participants identified as Native English Speakers with another 20% claimed to be very fluent in English.

58% of participants identified as Hispanic or Latino and another 21% of participants identified as Caucasian. Participants were tested individually in a convenient setting and were provided a booklet with a demographic questionnaire, a set of instruction that were read aloud to them by the present researcher, and four passages from popular magazines and articles. Participants were instructed to read the four passages in an assigned order, ASSA or SAAS, A representing aloud and S representing silently, and to attempt to identify the ten spelling errors in each passage.

Get quality help now
checked Verified writer

Proficient in: Reading

star star star star 4.9 (247)

“ Rhizman is absolutely amazing at what he does . I highly recommend him if you need an assignment done ”

avatar avatar avatar
+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

The study hypothesized that reading aloud would lead to a greater number of identified spelling errors and this was not supported as there was virtually no difference between identified errors in the two strategies. The results of the present study provide educators with knowledge that either strategy could work for students and could be left to preference.

Proofreading refers to reviewing a text to identify possible grammatical, spelling, or formatting errors.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

You won’t be charged yet!

Sobolik identifies proofreading as a skill that improves with one’s desire to improve. The importance of proofreading cannot be understated as Sobolik states that clear and concise communication is essential in almost all occupations. Almost everyone must proofread at some point in their life and everyone should do so on a more consistent basis. The most frequent users of proofreading are likely teachers and students as both occupations write and review essays on a consistent basis. Those who do not proofread are allowing errors to stay within written works and allows the possibility of miscommunication, which in some professions, can spell disaster for one’s self and others. Some of the factors that influence proofreading are external ones such as outside noise or other distractions and internal ones such as reading proficiency. Unfortunately, there is no universal proofreading strategy that is utilized by all people and there tends to be debate on what strategy is best. However, the present study is seeking to provide insight to this debate and investigate two popular strategies, reading aloud and reading silently.

Fortunately, past research has some key insights into proofreading that provide some context for how individuals approach proofreading. Monk and Hulme investigated how people identify spelling errors. More specifically, Monk and Hulme focused in on word shape and how that incorporates into identifying spelling errors. Monk and Hulme performed two experiments, one in which word shape was altered and retained, and one in which a program randomly changed lowercase letters to uppercase and manual deletions of letters was performed. The results of the first experiment found that misspellings that altered the word shape were noticed more often than misspellings that retained word shape. The results of the second experiment furthered the idea that altering the word shape increased misspelling detection. The findings of Monk and Hulme would suggest that the visual aspect of altering word shape in a misspelling would give a greater cue to readers that a misspelling is occurring. The present study could utilize this information to allow readers to better identify misspellings or better explain possible results.

Furthermore, the findings of Healy supports the findings of Monk and Hulme regarding visual similarities between errors and word shape. Healy investigated proofreading errors, specifically how visual similarity affects detection of misspellings. Healy performed three experiments which tested varying types of misspellings including single letter replacement, single letter feature differentiation, and single letter feature differentiation not across upper and lowercase and across both upper and lowercase. The findings of the study confirmed the importance of visual factors and provided evidence to suggest that readers scan for visual representation when finding misspellings. It was found that replacement utilizing visually similar letters greatly increased misspelling detection rate compared to visually dissimilar replacement. The main finding of the study was that readers apply a hierarchal feature test prioritizing the shape and envelope of the letters and giving less priority to additional features. The hierarchal feature test would align with the idea that proofreading utilizes top-down processing, the idea that perceptions begin with larger concepts before moving down to finer details. This finding regarding the hierarchal feature test provides great insight to the current study as it would suggest that the participants prioritize shape and more easily identify missing features than identifying additional features across visually similar letter replacement. Now that visually similar misspellings have been identified as more difficult to detect and top-down processing has been identified as how readers proofread, the varying individual strategies which are arguably more important, can be explored.

Riefer examined reading backwards as at the time, there was no controlled research done on the possible benefits of reading backwards. Riefer performed three experiments, experiment one found that reading backwards was worse than forward reading in detecting contextual errors and showed no benefit in detecting misspellings. However, experiment two instructed participants to slow down when reading backwards and showed it to be a beneficial strategy. Experiment three supported that reading speed is a crucial element when comparing reading forwards to reading backwards. The main takeaways of Riefer are that reading backwards is an efficient proofreading strategy when it is utilized to slow readers down and focus them on individual words which makes it highly beneficial in detecting misspellings and that reading backwards is not beneficial in detecting contextual errors. Riefer calls for further research into combinations of proofreading strategies and further exploration of established strategies such as reading aloud and reading aloud to another person. Reading backwards could be a strategy utilized by participants in the present study and Riefer provides context as to how it benefits potential users of the strategy. Also, slowing down the reader is identified as a strategy to increase detection rates of misspellings and could possibly be a crucial reason as to why readers did or did not detect spelling errors in the present study.

Riefer performed a follow up study exploring the possible benefits of group proofreading. Riefer performed a single experiment in which participants were organized into pairs and searched for misspellings but with one participant reading aloud and the other following along silently and the control group had paired participants that read silently but separately. The findings of the experiment were that group proofreading was not effective in detecting misspellings as the control group with two readers doing so separately detected just as many errors. Another finding of the study was that reading aloud was identified as an element of group proofreading that was not beneficial. Riefer gives no support to the idea that reading aloud is beneficial for proofreading as participants that read silently identified more misspellings and did so more quickly than those that read aloud. The implications of Riefer for the present study is that reading aloud should provide no benefit in detection of misspellings and provides further insight to why readers may or may not detect spelling errors. However, the findings of Riefer are in direct contrast to the findings of Nihei, Terashima, Suzuki, and Morikawa which examined the possible benefits of reading in pairs. Nihei, Terashima, Suzuki, and Morikawa found that discussion between group members allowed individuals to restructure the task and increased both learning and error detection rate. It should be noted that Nihei, Terashima, Suzuki, and Morikawa studied error detection rate for contextual errors as opposed to Riefer which studied misspellings. Nihei, Terashima, Suzuki, and Morikawa provides further understanding of reader comprehension during proofreading and should be kept in mind for future studies.

Therefore, the purpose of the present study is to contribute to the understanding of proofreading strategies and more specifically, in identifying which proofreading strategy, between reading aloud and reading silently, is most beneficial. The present study hypothesizes that reading aloud will be more effective in detecting misspellings due to the strategy slowing down the reader to recite the syllables which would assist in detecting phonological anomalies.

Participants were recruited by convenience sampling. Participants were 139 males to 148 females for a total of 287 participants from the San Bernardino, California area with the age of the participants ranging from 18 years of age to 65 years of age with a mean age of 30 (SD = 11.70). This sample of participants was 58.2% Hispanic or Latino, 20.9% Caucasian, 9.4% African American, 8.5% Asian or Asian American, 1.7% Native American, and 1.4% of participants identified as other. Also, this sample of participants was 70.7% native English Speaker, 19.9% spoke English very fluently, 2.8% spoke English fluently, and 5.9% spoke English but not fluently. Participants received no incentives for participating in the study. All participants of the present study were treated ethically in accordance with the American Psychological Association Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.

Participants were given a booklet that included informed consent, a demographic information sheet, general instructions, a debriefing statement, and four proofreading passages from Riefer, each of the passages were 250 words from popular books and magazines each containing 10 typographical errors created by either changing, deleting, or adding a letter to the word. Each of the four passages were counterbalanced to control for order and sequence into ASSA and SAAS design and distributed randomly. A in the sequence represents reading aloud and S in the sequence represents reading silently.

All participants were tested individually in a quiet setting and first completed the informed consent sheet. Participants then completed the demographic information sheet. Then, the Experimenter read the instructions to the participant, emphasized that only typographical errors would be present in the readings, and instructed participants to circle the errors they found in the passages. Participants then read all four passages at normal reading speeds and circling errors they found. Participants were then debriefed and thanked for their participation.

The study uses a within-subjects design with the independent variable being the type of proofreading strategy, the independent variable had two levels, aloud and silent proofreading. The dependent variable was the number of spelling errors detected. Analysis of the data was calculated with a correlated t-test at p < .05.

The study examined the ability of participants to identify typographical errors while proofreading either silently or aloud. The study utilized a within-subjects design. A correlated T-test was conducted to examine the effect of reading aloud and reading silently on the ability to identify typographical errors. The study hypothesized that participants reading aloud would identify significantly more typographical errors than when read silently. The study found that there was not a significant difference between reading aloud and reading silently, t(286) = 0.14, p = .443, ns, . When participants read aloud, they were found to have a slightly higher amount of typographical errors detected, (M = 10.17, SD = 3.83) . When participants read silently, they were found to have identified a slightly lower amount of typographical errors, (M = 10.14, SD = 4.17) .

The purpose of the study was to identify which proofreading strategy, reading aloud or reading silently, would be more efficient in detecting misspellings. It was hypothesized that reading aloud would slow down the reader to have them recite syllables and increase detection of phonological anomalies improving the reader’s ability to detect misspellings. The results of the present study suggest that reading aloud is not more efficient in detecting misspellings than reading silently.

A possible reason for why the study achieved the results it did pertains to the design of the instructions given to participants. It is explicitly stated in the instructions that participants should read “fairly quickly”, however, no explanation to “fairly quickly” is given. This leaves the participants with a vague instruction and has each individual participant deciding just how much faster “fairly quickly” is. This introduces the possibility that participants would not have taken full advantage of the slowing down element of the reading aloud approach which is noted by Riefer as being an especially important element that should be studied further. Williams identified a negative correlation between reading speed and words correct, this correlation would imply that as one reads faster, one’s likelihood of making an error increases. Therefore, it is entirely plausible that participants might have increased their speed to such a degree that it negatively impacted their ability to identify spelling errors.

Another reason the study achieved the results it did has to do with the design of the spelling errors. Each passage had ten spelling errors, but how the spelling error was made varied from error to error. Some spelling errors were made via removing a letter and some were made via replacing a letter. This creates an issue because as Healy indicated, spelling errors that replaced letters with visually similar letters resulted in an increase to proofreading errors. Replacing the letter ‘m’ with the letter ‘n’ is an example of a spelling error that utilizes visually similar letters. Unfortunately, the present study did not account for this and introduced the possibility that some passages may have had harder to detect spelling errors than other passages.

A third reason the present study achieved the results it did could lie in the lack of a controlled environment for testing to take place. Considering that participants were recruited by convenience sampling, where participants partook in the study was also done by convenience. This being the case, it introduces the possibility that outside noises could cause distractions for the reader and skew results. Vasilev found that background noises or speech has a small but reliable detrimental effect on reading comprehension, reading speed, and proofreading accuracy. While it was not reported by researchers in the present study whether there were instances of background noises or speech, that does not mean that instances of this did not occur. Had a controlled environment been utilized in the present study, the possibility of background noise or speech interfering with proofreading would be null.

Possibly the greatest limitation of the current study is that there was no measure to asses spelling ability for participants. While there was a demographic questionnaire that asked about English fluency, it does not necessarily equate to a measure of spelling ability. This limitation could have entirely skewed the results of the study given that roughly 30% of participants identified as non-native English speakers. Future research on this subject should ensure to screen for participants that have adequate spelling capabilities to ensure that participants are given a fair chance to identify the spelling errors. Future research should also be mindful of familiarity with text. Pilotti, Chodorow, and Thornton identified that participants who were familiar with texts significantly increased reading speed and error detection. As technology improves over time, future research may utilize the screen format instead of the paper formatting utilized in the present study. However, Wharton-Michael found that presenting text in a paper format significantly increased the amount of errors detected compared to presenting the text through a screen. While the current study did not explore nor discuss a group proofreading strategy, future research may benefit from exploring the idea of reading in pairs. The findings of Nihei, Terashima, Suzuki, and Morikawa and Sobolik regarding the benefits of reading to others may be utilized by future research to fully explore the benefits of reading in pairs. The results of the present study contribute to the further understanding of proofreading strategies and could allow educators to better advise students on proofreading strategies.

In short, the present study hypothesized that reading aloud would result in an increase in detected spelling errors in comparison to reading silently. This hypothesis was not supported as it was found that reading aloud and reading silently performed essentially the same in detecting spelling errors. The findings of the study indicate that individual preference would likely be best in determining which proofreading strategy should be utilized. Knowing this, it is hopeful that both present and future educators find themselves better capable of instructing students on proofreading strategies and perhaps even placing a greater emphasis on the skill.

Updated: Feb 28, 2024
Cite this page

Reading Aloud Vs Reading Silently; Benefits Of Reading. (2024, Feb 28). Retrieved from

Live chat  with support 24/7

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment