We are always looking for new, useful learning methods. Whether it be writing things, drawing concepts on a white board, or reading out loud, students take many different approaches when it comes to memorizing things. Among these learning tactics, reading things out loud is often mentioned as a great way to remember things. But, can reading out loud help your memory?
The Production Effect
While reading, we use our visual receptors to memorize information – we remember words and concepts because we saw them. That’s why people with a photographic memory can easily learn from just reading information. On the other hand, speaking words out loud engages our auditory cortex – we hear ourselves saying these words and form auditory memories.
Much like there are visual and auditory memory links, there is also a memory pathway to the concrete production of the words. The phenomenon is called the production effect.
How Can Reading Out Loud Help You Remember?
A study led by Colin MacLeod of the University of Waterloo in Canada demonstrates the power of this effect. The researchers presented the participants with a list of words and asked them to read one half of the list silently, and the other half out loud. As you might have guessed, subjects remembered the first half of the list much better, thus proving the existence of the production effect.
After another, similar experiment contributed to this hypothesis, it became pretty clear that the production effect has a strong influence on our ability to remember things. Most likely, the reason for this phenomenon is that spoken language was used for thousands of years as a means of communication, before written language was introduced.
So, can reading out loud help you study? It seems that the answer to this question is an unequivocal “yes”. Furthermore, even slightly whispering the words can do wonders for your memory. But remember, even though speaking the words can help, you need to think about what you’re reading, make connections, categorize things and ask questions.