Many teachers have used oral reading to develop skills in reading classes and in other classes to get through text portion of particular lesson. In actuality what they may be doing inadvertently is destroying these students’ self-esteem and tenacity for learning.
Oral reading is often done in a round robin type activity, and the students with the weaker reading skills can easily be spotted by the look of angst they have on their faces, while they are nervously awaiting their turn to read aloud. Because their skills are lacking they feel humiliation during the entire time they are responsible for the oral reading. The fact that classmates will taunt them because of their slow speed or constant mistakes is mortifying. Of course teachers train their pupils to not poke fun at these lower level readers, but the sighs and moans of rest of the class when the slow readers turn finally arrives can be deafening to the poor child. As a self defense mechanism most of these students will do almost anything to avoid having to read aloud to the class. They often will “suddenly” become ill, or they will have an overwhelming urge to go to the restroom. Some even misbehave so badly that the teacher will be forced to send them out of the room, and this will allow them to not have to risk the embarrassment of having lower level reading skills than their classmates. Soon, many students who lack strong reading skills and are still having to read orally to the class acquire such a deep anxiety for this activity that they quickly build up a wall to reading in general. For a few it is less painful to risk the punishment of refusing to read than it is to try only to fail in the eyes of their peers.
The educators are utilizing more and more small reading groups and creating interesting activities to help struggling readers gain improved reading skills. These approaches will help the child keep his dignity, too. The only time a teacher should actually use an oral reading program is when the class is ability grouped with students who have equal level reading skills. This method means that students will be less likely to taunt their classmate, and their anxiety level will not skyrocket, each and every time they must read. Teacher can use pairs for oral reading rather than whole class. This way the students still have the abilities developed by oral reading.