What your brain is doing while you speak
While you speak, your brain needs to think about two things:
- WHAT to say (that’s hard enough)
- HOW to say it (how to pronounce the words)
It’s often too much for your brain to handle. It’s not easy to figure out what words we want to say. But even after we figure it out, we now need to concentrate on the individual pronunciation of every single word. And while we’re doing that, we have to think about even more words in the future!
As a result, you freeze, get intimidated, frustrated, and give up.
Why should you read out loud?
But what if you could practice your pronunciation ahead of time, so that when you have to say words in a conversation, your brain already has practice? What if your brain could say those words naturally, without having to think too hard about the pronunciation? Is it possible to exercise those muscles in advance?
Reading out loud can help with this. When you read out loud, you don’t have to worry about WHAT to say; you already have that. This is your low-pressure time to practice pronunciation only.
Not a substitute for actually speaking
Before we get too far, I want to emphasize this is not a substitute for speaking practice. You have to speak. You have to speak to real, live English speakers. But reading out loud beforehand is a stepping stone, a complement to your speaking. It may give you more confidence; it may improve your pronunciation. By the time you step outside your comfort zone, you’ll have had some practice in the sandbox.