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Read Silently Or Out Loud? (Learn When To Use Each One)

Reading in silence is an important method for quickly going over a text. You don’t have to bother to say the words perfectly. You can do this at a high speed. Reading out loud is a better method if you are reading for higher comprehension. You not only see the words, but you also hear them. This allows you to receive the information twice in your brain. 

Which method you use depends on your goal. Use silent reading when you have a good understanding of the words you read. When you are not that familiar with a text, read it out loud. This gives your brain more focus when reading. You have to not just read the text but also say the words. 

Start reading out loud for better comprehension

What Are The Disadvantages Of Silent Reading or Reading Out Loud?

Reading silently allows you to read faster than out loud. You don’t need to understand each word to know what you read. The context of the words gives you a good idea of the meaning of the text. You can also do this at pretty much every location. You don’t distract or disturb anyone. 

You do need to have a good focus when you are reading this way. Most people only use their eyes for silent reading. Since your eyes are not made to jump from word to word… they will get distracted by other words or images on the page. This makes it harder for your brain to keep track of the text. Use your finger or a pen to guide your eyes through the text. I urge you to always do this. You increase focus and make reading easier for your brain and yourself. 

When you read out loud, you are of course making a lot more noise. This could be a problem when you study near other people. Your reading may distract them. Reading out loud is slower than reading silently. It takes a lot more energy and time to form the words you read and say them out loud. 

(Also read: Is subvocalization good for comprehension?)

There are some amazing benefits when reading out loud. Since you also hear the words, you don’t see the words only. You also hear them! This helps you remember them a lot better. A difficult text becomes easier this way. You are also reading with more focus. You can’t jump all over the page when you read this way. I usually read out loud when a text is difficult or has a lot of technical terms. Reading out loud helps you to improve your fluency. It also enables you to hear flows in texts.

Side note: Reading out loud was the norm throughout most of history. Reading was a social activity. Only during the Middle Ages did people start reading in silence more. 

Is Reading Out Loud Slower Than Reading Silently?

Yes, reading out low is usually slower than reading in silence. It does help you in understanding words and text better. This means that it all depends on what you like to achieve. What is your goal when reading? Are you reading for pleasure? You probably like to read in silence. When you read fast enough, you can read your book as if you watch a movie. 

The way you read out loud is about as fast as how fast you can talk. This means a fast talker can usually read faster, especially out loud!

(Also read: Is it better to read fast or slow?)

The reason most people are not very fast vocal readers also has to do with this. How often do you read out loud? I guess you don’t do this many times. You are simply not accustomed to doing it. Start reading more out loud and your reading speed will improve. 

Using different voices also helps. Make it more interesting for your brain to read a text out loud. You will be able to recall more of the information. Not just because you use voices, but also because it is more fun to read this way.  

TIP: reading out loud becomes easier and more fluent when you not only read the word you are saying right now. You should also take time to watch a few words ahead. This buffer makes it better to keep the flow in your reading. It also improves understanding and context. 

Is It Better If You Read Out Loud Or In Your Head When Studying?

Reading out loud improves your understanding. It helps you to memorize your text better. This is because you not only see words with your eyes. You also hear them. Yes, when you read in silence, you also hear words. Hearing them with your ears after speaking them with your mouth is a lot more powerful! So for difficult paragraphs in your book, you benefit a lot by reading out loud!

Here is what you should be doing when you start reading. Know your goal. Why are you reading? Is this to recall what you did yesterday? Then by all means read in silence. You are already familiar with the text. When you start reading something new, start reading in silence.

silent reading

When you feel the text is too difficult, begin all over (with that paragraph or page). Now you read out loud. Reading this way helps you to read with more focus. This focus increases recall and understanding. 

(Also read: Why reading speed and comprehension should go together)

Always have a clear goal. You are studying something, so you want to understand what you read. You need the information for assignments, papers, or exams. You better get the information in your head! Hearing the words is very important for you. Start reading out loud to yourself. You may even record yourself reading. This way you can listen to yourself later on while going to work, or when working out. 


It depends on your goal whether you should read out loud or in silence. When you want to read faster, read in silence. This method is usually faster than reading out loud. You do have a better comprehension of a text when you read it out loud. You also remember ideas and words better this way. 

Start reading out loud if you are not familiar with a text. This way you have better focus and you not only see words, but you also hear them. You are receiving the information twice in your brain!

You will improve your focus when reading in silence when you use a pen or finger. Use this to move over the words to guide your eyes. If you don’t, your eyes will get distracted. This happens a lot less if you read it out loud. 

In short, make sure you have a clear goal when reading. When you are studying, reading out loud is often better. Make sure your environment allows you to read out loud (or mumble your words, this also helps 🙂 ) 

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