Significance of silent reading

Significance of silent reading

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Masum Billah Reading education materials is one of the important early aspects in the process of learning and being educated. We do reading usually in two ways such as oral or loud reading and silent reading. Knowing the difference between oral and silent reading is vital to an individual’s educational lifetime.
Oral reading provides the thought from the printed page, while silent readers absorb the thought from the text. Oral reading actually follows an instant recognition of a thought, while silent readers immediately get the thought. Oral reading is a complex process which involves   mental interpretations based on eye sweeps of the text accompanied by vocalization. But silent readers simply interpret the materials through a series of eye sweeps without delay resulting from vocalization. With oral readers, the pronunciation of the words is most important, with silent readers, the meanings of the words are most important. Vocalization reduces and limits the speed of oral readers that doesn’t affect silent readers. Reading requires much guessing at a variety of levels. Readers can use guessing to their advantage to go and organizational relationships and the meaning of words.Silent reading is sometimes considered as recreational reading or independent reading as in silent reading something is read in a relaxed mood and only a single individual remains concerned about it. Reading silently improves students’ understanding because it helps them concentrate on what they are reading, rather than the pronunciation of individual words. When we read silently, we can form mental pictures of the topic being read and discussed. Also, we do not need to read one word at a time. As teachers when you encourage your students to read silently, you are helping them develop the strategies they need for reading fast, and with better comprehension. This is called reading efficiency, and it will help your students to read any text with maximum attention to meaning. Silent reading also helps develop the skills of reading for a purpose, as the focus is on understanding the content without having the additional burden to pay attention to pronunciation. This is because silent reading helps students to focus their attention on the text; their increased concentration on the text is sustained until the entire text is read. This also helps students absorb ideas into their subconscious mind and then use them in their daily lives.
Research has shown that reading ability is positively correlated with the extent to which students read recreationally, according to the ‘Reading and Writing Habits of students, section of the Condition of Education 1997 published by the National Center for Education Statistics. Educators are increasingly encouraging their students to read and write on their own. In 1994, 9-,13-and 17 –year old students  who reported reading for fun at least once a week had higher average  reading proficiency  scores than students  who reported never or hardly ever reading for fun.
Some teachers divide their classes into small groups, so that students can share their thoughts about the books they have read. Sometimes teachers provide a question that will serve as the focus of the group discussion. The discussion question might support the curriculum, focusing attention on the climax, or the author’s point of view, or some other element of literature that the teacher has introduced in class. In some classes teachers invite students to work in pairs. A pair of ‘reading friends might select a book to read together and talk about. Reading friends sometimes look back through a book together; retelling poignant, funny, or important parts said Lucy Calkins in an article in Instructor magazine. Some of the adverse problems experienced by oral readers include vocalization, reading aloud or with lip movement, excessive eye fixations meaning reading one word at a glance instead of whole phrases or thought units.
Benefits of effective silent reading  include steady  improvement of educational efficiency , exploration of a wide variety of reading material, learning how to read with purpose and confidence in dealing with all forms of reading, whether for school, business or recreation. The successful evolution of oral reading to silent reading includes learning to give proper attention to different kinds of reading material, determining the most important ideas of reading text, grasping main ideas with minimum eye fixations, trying together closely related ideas in the text, achieving comprehension of the text without difficulty, and subconsciously determining what might be best for recollection later. In other words, oral reading is vital in the beginning while silent reading is beneficial for lifetime. The ability to sit and silently read a text is a skill that all students will need as they move through secondary education and into higher education. Similar to learning and active reading strategy, students must have multiple opportunities each day to practice reading silently. And like all explicit instruction, we must make it clear to our students why this skill is important to them. In college and at work students are sometimes required to read complex texts throughout the week. They will not be asked to read out loud, nor will they be asked to call on a colleague to read. Students must learn how to comprehend texts on their own. They must develop the ability to stick with a text and focus on what it says over a period of time. As students develop proficiency in comprehending what they read silently, we should increase the amount of silent reading they do in class and at home.
In our practical life we mostly read silently. What we do at the coffee shop or restaurant?  We read the menu silently. We read many instructions in the transport, hospitals and in different public places silently. We do it naturally. Why? We don’t want to disturb our neighboring people. We just want to learn the message from the written words. There is a greater purpose to silent reading, however, that goes beyond not wanting to irritate our neighbours. Silent reading helps us read faster. It helps us make faster connection between words and it gives us the silence we need to concentrate and process information. We also know that reading out loud is a performance. The reader worries more about pronunciation than he does the ideas in the text. Our students need to know this. While our students read silently as teachers we should walk around the room and observe what they are doing. Some students will read with great proficiency while others struggle to understand. Half of a reader’s brain is concentrating on pronunciation when she reads out loud. . If half of her brain is thinking about the meaning of a text then she won’t be able to put her full effort into her pronunciation. What happens in the examination hall? Do we read the questions loudly there? Of course not. If all the examinees read their questions loudly, the whole examination hall will turn into a fish market and nobody will be able to give concentration on their questions and writing answers. When we read out loud we have to think about and pronounce every word in the text, but there are many words we don’t need to be able to pronounce and/ or understand. When we read silently, we can just skip past anything that we think is too difficult or not important.
We use our visual pathways to form memory links at the time of reading something. We remember the material because it was something we saw. People who have photographic memory are extraordinary good at making these kinds of memory connections. For those of us who do not have photographic memory, relying only on visual memory may leave us with many gaps, and so we have to find other ways to remember things. When reading out loud, we form auditory links in our memory pathways. While we do silent reading we establish visual links along with auditory links.
Masum Billah is program manager: BRAC Education Program, and writes regularly on education, national and international issuesEmail: masumbillah65@gmail.com)

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