We know, it’s weird. You’re already coming for help on that super stressful philosophy paper that you have no idea what you’re even saying and now someone wants to read the paper out loud? We totally understand your queasy feeling and sweaty palms, but let me explain why we do this at John Carroll’s Writing Center!
First and foremost, if you are ever uncomfortable with our routine of reading the paper out loud, please tell your consultant! Let them know that this practice is making you uneasy and they will respectively read to themselves. However, reading out loud has it benefits!
As a writer, you are so close to your ideas and words! You are the brainstormer, the composer, and the editor. Take a break! Let us read for a change! The consultant reading aloud lets you hear what you wrote and lets us hear your ideas so everyone in the consultation is on the same page.
This brings us to the main reason why we ask to read student papers out loud—revision. When you write, it’s natural to read and reread your work. You know what you want to say, but sometimes it just doesn’t come out that way. Reading out loud let’s us hear those long sentences that may need a little work. When we read out loud, we can assess the flow, verb tense and problems with plurals. We can also hear if there needs to be a comma or a semicolon where there isn’t one already. Reading out loud is an effective way to hear the errors that are so easy to miss during your rereading of the paper.
If nothing else, reading out loud allows us to catch typos! Let’s face it. Typos are a fact of writing. You might type the same word twice or spell whether, weather—like I did my freshmen year in my final research paper. Yikes. Sitting down with someone else and having two people look at the paper gives you a greater chance of fixing these common blunders.
Here at the JCU Writing Center, we aim to make students better writers by giving them the tools to achieve this. Reading out loud is a simple routine students can incorporate into their own revision of papers. Stop by and see what it’s like and experience all of the benefits of reading out loud!
Ellie Rafoth is a first year Graduate Assistant. This is her fourth year working at the Writing Center!