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Read out loud for better concentration

3 min read

If you’re having trouble focusing or concentrating on your reading and this is making you put any book down and binge-watch some series instead. You’re not alone.

But read this.

I don’t know if what I’m going to tell you is scientifically proven but I know it works. I also read that reading aloud improves memory and retention, so either way, you’re gonna like this.

I’m an avid reader, obsessed with the process of reading and writing and I love reading about how the brain works. I experiment with theories all the time and what I’m about to tell you will drastically change your life as a reader like it changed mine.

So, pandemic days, working for home, studying from home, problems everywhere, we’re working harder because the new normal allowed us to skip office chit-chats, commuting and random walks to grab a coffee in the office kitchen or cafeterias does not exist anymore, this all killed any productivity habit or familiar routine that we had solidly established before, and if you have people at home, it can be hell on earth sometimes.

I get it. I understand that, at the end of the day, you just want to put your headphones on and watch your favorite series alone on your iPad in bed or scroll your favorite social media platform like a zombie. Breathe, sleep, anything but reading. This is also me by the way.

And I also get it that you can’t concentrate on anything written, because everything overwhelms you. Maybe reading this article is already overloading your brain right now.

We’re overloading our brains with information plus having to adapt to changes and “new normals”. Reading is a task that demands a lot from our brains. So, I know.

But what if we could use a different part of our brains to read and that would make us read despite everything?

I mean, sure. Your eyes are the first thing you use to read but as the words hit your fovea and are somehow identified by your brain, you’re not seeing anymore. You’re using an area of your brain that is responsible for codifying these symbols and repeat them inside your head or make you instantly perceive them as words and sentences that make sense together.

The problem with it is that it’s the same area we use all day for reading e-mail messages, texts, the news, something you’re studying, websites, or to reread and edit the piece of writing we work on. It gets saturated. Does it make sense?

Keep that in mind. You repeat the words inside your head. This is called subvocalization and speed reading gurus tell us to eliminate it. However, subvocalization is a way your brain finds to help you read and focus.

Because the part of your brain that codifies symbols and retrieves logic is so overwhelmed and is used for many tasks at the same time, we tend to use this speaking area of our brains as a shortcut to keep reading.

Now, vocalizing or saying the words out loud seems to have this effect of boosting our brain’s attempt to help us focus. Plus, it starts feeling like you’re listening to a narrative or speech instead of trying to codify a string of words. That employs an area of our brains that not all of us use all the time, so it’s fresh and ready to serve our purpose here.

So, my tip for the day is this: read out loud when you’re struggling to focus.

Other benefits of reading out loud, it increases your vocabulary because we retain information easier, we understand better (because it sharpens our focus), it allows us to play with pronunciation and intonation giving reading a more human trait, it exercises our body, and it improves our listening and reading skills.

What do you think?

Now, between the lines…

Do you read out loud? When do you do it and what do you feel about it?

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