I often think back to the days of elementary school. In the early years I recall that the class was split up into separate reading groups. I would always end up reading a real paperback book while other kids read Spot, Clifford or the Berenstain Bears. In 4th grade they gave the entire class the same book. I was able to read it out aloud with no challenge whatsoever. Most other kids would stumble over every third word. It was very irritating to say the least. Recently, due to the advent of podcasting, this irritation has made a triumphant return.
I am a co-host of one podcast and a listener of many. Often I will write e-mails to other podcasters who occasionally decide to read those e-mails on the air. Much to my dismay, they often stumble over those messages in a similar fashion to that of my elementary school classmates.
The most recent example of this occurred on episode Alpha 61 of The Dragon’s Landing Inn. I sent Chuck and Lonnie an e-mail with a small bit of role-playing advice, and they were nice enough to read it on the show. They even played our promo without us asking for it, so I don’t want anyone to say I called them dummies. They’re two very smart guys who have plenty of interesting things to say. If I didn’t think so, I probably wouldn’t listen to their podcast or send them e-mails. But at the same time, I guess that’s what makes this more disappointing. Even smart people with awesome podcasts have trouble reading my e-mails aloud.
I would normally immediately blame this problem on my writing, but I am not alone in this predicament. My co-host and house-mate Rym also has this problem. He has also expressed dismay in that whenever others read his writings aloud, they stumble over every other sentence. Here’s the trick. I can read his writings aloud perfectly, and he can also read mine. You could blame it on writing style, but our writings are very dissimilar.
So what am I trying to say here? I’m not quite sure. All I know is that many people have trouble taking text from a page and reading it aloud with perfect fluidity. This makes me sad. Let’s do a test. Take this blog posting and try to read it aloud. You must speak using conversational pace and tone. See how many times you hit a speed bump. See how many times you have to re-read sentences before you can recite them fluidly. Try doing this with articles from the newspaper or other websites as well. Now do it cold. Read an article aloud that you have never seen before. I get the feeling that reading aloud is a skill which is not emphasized enough in our society. Maybe if more people realize they lack this essential and basic skill, they will build upon it and exercise it more often.