Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Posts On Students Reading Aloud Individually In ESL Class — But I Need Your Help Finding Research On The Topic


I’m not a big fan of having English Language Learners read aloud individually to the entire class, though I do have students doing it when it’s part of a small group (reader’s theater, in partners, or when they’ve practiced reading a short passage and “perform” in front of the class). It seems to me that, outside of those engaging interactions, having students read a passage aloud is not very energizing to them (or even worse — a confidence destroying experience) and pretty deadly for the rest of the class.

However, I know this is a matter of debate among teachers of English Language Learners. I’ve found some good posts about the topic, including tons of comments on them, but I haven’t been able to find a single piece of research on the subject.

So I thought I’d share links to the online discussions, and hope that a reader can recommend research. Can you help me out?

ALSO: SEE Oral Reading In The Mainstream & ELL Classroom

Thanks to Julie Niles Petersen, I realized that the reason I couldn’t find research was because it’s generally called “round robin reading” or “popcorn reading.” Thanks, Julie! After a search, I found a ton of research pointing out what a bad instructional strategy it is. Here are a few links that I’m adding to that list:

Weighing the Options: Alternatives to Round Robin Reading

Here are my choices for The Best Posts On Students Reading Aloud Individually In ESL Class:

Reading aloud allowed? is from Oxford University Press’ English Language Teaching Blog.

Reading aloud in class is a complete waste of time – Discuss… is by Ken Wilson.

Why I hate reading aloud is by Laura Patsko.

To Read or Not To Read is by Tamara Jones.

Jeremy Harmer on reading aloud is online presentation.

5 Reasons Not to Use Round Robin Reading with ELLs is from Colorin Colorado.

11 Alternatives to “Round Robin” (and “Popcorn”) Reading is by Todd Finley.

3 Reasons To Dump Round Robin Reading and What To Do Instead is by Valentina Gonzalez.

Are read-alongs (round robin, popcorn) a good idea? is from Timothy Shanahan.

Feedback is welcome, as well as additional suggestions.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Hi Larry,
    I quickly skimmed a few of the articles you shared. I think what you are really asking is if round robin reading (where one student reads a bit, then the next student reads a bit, then the next and so on) or popcorn reading (where students are expected to read a bit, but the order students read is a surprise). Neither practice is recommended for any student. Choral and echo reading are more effective. For research, I suggest you search for Richard Allington and round robin reading. I think you’ll find what you’re looking for.

  2. Hi Larry,

    Thanks for adding our article to this ‘Best of’ list. Much appreciated.

    OUP ELT Global

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  4. Hi: I teach ESL – reading overseas and I agree with many of the comments. ‘Popcorn’ reading is not particularily good as the good students probably dont need it and the poor students get embarrassed by their low abilities. However, it is clearly evident in my classes that the students (elementary) who know the practice of reading aloud are better all around students and have better reading and comprehension skills. The latest compromise that I have found is ‘script’ reading where the book is written as a ‘script’ and the students read their ‘parts’. The rest of the students are the ‘chorus’. Seems to work well for everyone.

  5. Hi Larry,

    I’ve only just realised (rather late!) that you featured my post here. Many thanks! I’ve actually moved my blog and the post is now to be found here:

    I also wrote a follow-up post after doing a bit of light action research and finding out how my students felt about it. You can read that here, if you’re interested:

    Thanks again,


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