Does reading out loud cause you to remember things better?

Modified on by sruthi

Does reading out loud cause you to remember things better?

We have previously written about how, when learning a new language, it is crucial to speak out loud in addition reading from a textbook. We have always emphasized reading (and even singing) as a good tool for improving one’s accent and for general practice of the language. However, reading material out loud can also be an effective strategy to remember things.  Reading aloud can especially be great when combined with a web or mobile “smart flashcards” study tool such as Brainscape.

Reading Out Loud and Memory

The Production Effect

When we read, we are using our visual pathways 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. He 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. Especially if the word or content is different, it makes it easier to remember.

Connecting to What You Read

However, what you should remember is that simply reading your entire textbook before an exam will most probably do nothing for you. 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 make connections, you do not have anything to anchor what you have read into your memory. Besides, wouldn’t you rather understand what you are reading rather than simply needing it for an exam and then forgetting it later?

Reading out loud while studying can be annoying, as it not only takes a longer time, but also has the possibility to make you look slightly deranged if you are muttering quietly to yourself in a library. However, it is another very effective strategy for remembering things. It’s worth the risk of looking like a lunatic so that you can remember better.

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, mathematics, and more. Check out all the Brainscape flashcard sets here.



Brainscape is a web & mobile education platform that helps you learn anything faster, using cognitive science. Join the millions of students, teachers, language learners, test-takers, and corporate trainees who are doubling their learning results. Visit or find us on the App Store .


James 8 years ago

You don't have to be so self conscious. Stop worrying about what people think about you in the library. Posting that part about the library shows the insecurity of the author of this blog. No one thinks someone's a lunatic when they read to themselves whispering.

Midshipman01_2001 8 years ago

Abraham Lincoln used to drive his law partners crazy doing the exact same thing.  He discovered that when he read things out loud he remembered them better.

Amanda Moritz 8 years ago

Ha! Good anecdote for this article. Thanks for sharing :)


Dominique Thom 6 years ago

I love this. I flunked my first term in grade 6. I mean I FLUNKED IT! I got home with my report card, which resulted in me getting the whipping of my life. Then my parents discovered the Accelerated learning techniques. which is a 3 phased attack.

Phase 1: Record yourself reading the text you need to learn. Play it back and accompany the playback with baroque music. The music is softer than the vocal. Read the text while listening to it.

Phase 2: vocal and music are at same audio level. Read while listening.

Phase 3: Music is louder than vocal. read while listening.

We also had me listening while sleeping. The end of that year I got the prize for the most improved student in the entire school. We did not have the free mixing software available today. we had to use tapes. It was a LONG process. But it was worth it.

I still study this way today. Reading out loud, while listening to the same REALLY does work.

Enrique Gustavo Trepat 6 years ago

Never heard of that technique. I think it's worth trying.
Thanks for sharing

Sweet_as_honey09 9 years ago

No because as I read in my head I picture things as I picture the things I remember them and also I have a photo graphic memory :)

Jan Moss 7 years ago

It seems to be a very individual thing as to whether you read out loud to retain more or not according to the different articles I've read online. I think it must do as you're hearing and speaking something as well as just seeing it but the only way to really tell would be to test yourself on something - tricky as you couldn't use the same material for each test but it would be worth a try!

Louis Hearne 5 years ago

Was anybody else muttering quietly to themselves in a library when reading the line 'but also has the possibility to make you look slightly deranged if you are muttering quietly to yourself in a library' and then laugh subtly and look around to ensure no one was looking..?

Electronic Whiteboard 5 years ago

I agree it is a lot easier for us to remember things when we read aloud.

Now I know how it works! Thank you for sharing!

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Ons Zribi 5 years ago

Nice post. I will keep that in mind next time i read.

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Eve Barnett 5 years ago

A wonderful technique that I’ve used during my college years but ofcourse it’s better done in solitude because you wouldn’t want it to be a ‘possibility to make you look slightly deranged if you are muttering
quietly to yourself in a library’

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Mike Johnson 5 years ago

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Brooke Sheppard 5 years ago

Production effect is a great name for the ability. It is true that reading out loud helps memorization. Ph.D. jobs

Nora Adams 5 years ago

Human memory always makes an interesting topic to write and read and this article was written professionally. Ph.D. U.K.

Katie Nunley 5 years ago

Everyone definitely has different learning styles and should probably customize all their learning to that specific learning style. When reading aloud, though, it usually helps individuals to make more since of what they are reading. Especially in poetry. This is mainly due to the fact that punctuation is absolutely crucial to poetry, and if the punctuation is ignored, people often misunderstand the poem. Good luck everyone! At least try it before you dismiss the idea!

Clare 5 years ago

Reading out loud doesn't help me retain information as much as writing it down does. I think that retaining information is more subjective to each individual's learning style, as I can read an entire passage aloud and not remember what I said (with a general idea of the topic covered). Maybe if I really paid attention this might help, but I'll stick to flashcards and monotonous writing repetition for now.

Doctorate Degree Programs UK 5 years ago

I read somewhere that when you read aloud, you are learning three ways, reading with your eyes, repeating with your tough and again listening from your way to learn !!

Courtney@Brainscape 5 years ago

Those are good points!

Drik 5 years ago

Aforementioned reasons to remember anything in all due fairness depends on person to person. There are lots of students who don’t need to read out loud they simply just see through the topics with silent nature which helps them to remember as well as understand easily. In addition the exceptions happen when the students who needs to read out loud in order to remember any topics. Some essay service online can also help.Though above mentioned guidelines and instruction could somehow trigger some tactics to make the process of reading in silent effective plus comfortable.

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Ines 6 years ago

" If you do not make connections, you do not have anything to anchor what you have read into your memory"

This is so true!! Thanks to always enlighten about things we are not always wholly aware!

Robert Nelson 5 years ago

I think unless one writes the thing it gets difficult to retain information.I don't think that reading out loud cause one to remember things better. It's depends how attentively you can grab this things and put them in memory.
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