We've previously written about how, when learning a new language, it is crucial to practice speaking the foreign language aloud while learning, in addition reading from a textbook.

But speaking aloud doesn't just help learn another language—reading out loud benefits studying in multiple ways as well.  It is an effective strategy to remember things more effectively, and is especially fruitful when it's combined with a web or mobile adaptive flashcards study tool such as Brainscape.

Let's dive into how reading out loud benefits you and helps you remember things better.

Reading out loud and memory

The production effect

When we read, we are using the visual pathways in our brain to form memory links. We remember the material because it was something we saw.

People who have photographic memory are extraordinarily good at making these kinds of memory connections. For the rest of us, 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. We remember ourselves saying it out loud, and so not only form visual but also auditory links.

Art Markman, Ph.D. writes in his blog in Psychology Today about the production effect, which explains exactly why reading out loud causes us to remember better. Specifically referring to a study in which learners were given a list and asked to read half of it out loud and half of it silently, the learners were able to remember the part of the list they read out loud a lot better than the part of the list they read silently.

Dr. Markman adds that while there are memory pathways of visually seeing the words and also the auditory pathways of hearing the words, there is also a memory link to the actual production of the word, hence the production effect.

Connecting to what you read

However, you should remember that simply reading your entire textbook before an exam will most probably do nothing for you—even if you read it all out loud. (This is actually the biggest studying mistake you can make.)

Why is this? It’s because simply reading without categorizing, asking questions, and making connections does not do anything to organize the material in your mind.

If you do not read your textbook actively, you do not have anything to anchor what you have read into your memory. Your vocalizations need to accompany your more diligent reading activities if you truly want to benefit from reading aloud.

Reading out loud benefits your studying

When you read out loud during studying, your sense of hearing becomes part of the learning process and has various benefits: e.g. (i) you're more likely to pay attention to the material in front of you, (ii) you improve your ability to remember materials (as we discussed above), and (iii) you're more likely to make connections with things you've read before on another page.

Our top tips for turning this into a habit?

  1. Record yourself reading out loud to go over notes later again; and
  2. Pretend you're teaching someone else when reading aloud

Reading out loud while studying may seem annoying at first, as it not only takes longer, but it also might make you look slightly deranged, muttering quietly to yourself at the library. Just remember that it can be another effective strategy for remembering things.

[Discover more tips on how to study effectively using our complete guide to studying more effectively.]

Another great way to learn better is to use Brainscape’s smart, adaptive-learning flashcards, which can help you learn a huge variety of subjects, from foreign languages to science, math, and more. Check out Brainscape's efficient study app today, and best of luck in your studying either way!