As one of the newest reading techniques, immersion reading is becoming more popular. Discover what it is and how to use it in the ultimate guide to immersion reading.
The ultimate guide to immersion reading
Immersive reading is one of the new kids on the block when it comes to helping language learners. By incorporating multi-sensory tasks, it enhances the overall reading experience.
These tasks range from listening to text as you read, such as listening to an Amazon Audible or Speechify audiobook while reading along on the Kindle app, to using visual cues that can help those with dyslexia.
Here we examine the concept of immersive reading in more detail. We also look at its benefits and explain some of the tools commonly used in immersion reading.
What is immersion reading?
To understand immersion reading, you must first understand the science of reading. There are two schools of thought when it comes to this science.
The first is the Simple View of Reading (SVoR). First proposed in 1986, this model states that reading requires decoding and language comprehension abilities. Many use the SVoR to categorize reading disabilities, such as dyslexia and hyperlexia.
In 2021, a second model came along. Dubbed the active view of reading (AVR), it states that vocabulary comprehension aids in retention, recognition, and overall reading.
This model pulls from research into engaging multiple senses when reading. For example, a 2017 Computer Speech & Language study examined the effects of reading while listening to text in real-time.
The study found that motivation, word meaning understanding, and fluency all improve while listening to an audiobook version of the text as you read.
This research laid the groundwork for what we now know as immersion reading. Also referred to as “reading while listening,” immersion reading engages several senses as you read.
On the basic level, beginners can listen to audiobooks while reading physical text or reading along on a Kindle e-reader. Immersion increases with the addition of visual aids, such as diagrams and illustrations.
Ultimately, immersion reading shows us that we don’t have to choose between listening and traditional reading. Instead, a combination of both provides the basis for improved comprehension.
Using immersion reading tools
You may have discovered the interplay between text and audio versions yourself. For example, many people who listen to podcasts find that recall improves if they read a transcript while listening.
Building on these discoveries, several tools and technologies exist to aid immersive reading. Of these tools, text to speech (TTS) is the most effective.
TTS readers work by using an AI voice to read aloud any text copied into them. While the base technology is helpful, many tools combine TTS with other features to create a more immersive reading environment. Here are three examples.
Amazon Whispersync for Voice
As the creators of both the Amazon Kindle and the Audible app, Amazon is in a great position to offer immersion reading tech. Its Whispersync tool is the perfect example.
Whispersync works by playing Audible books alongside the Kindle Books you read. It’s available for new Kindles and Amazon Fire tablets. Whispersync syncs the passage of your book to its Audible narration. As such, you can read along easily while always being able to see where you are in the recording.
Microsoft Immersive Reader
Suppose you don’t have an Amazon account or don’t want to shell out for a Kindle Unlimited subscription. In that case, Microsoft’s Immersive Reader offers another option.
The tool reads aloud any text that the reader selects. Furthermore, it highlights the text to show the specific word it’s reading at any given time. This highlighting helps new readers figure out word structure and aids with pronunciation.
Immersive Reader also lets you adjust the spacing between words, which is helpful to those with dyslexia. It can even break up selected words by syllable, demonstrating how to say specific word fragments.
As a dedicated text to speech tool, Speechify allows users to have any digital or physical text read aloud by a huge selection of voices. It also comes with the ability to alter the reading speed. As a result, users can slow difficult passages down to aid comprehension before speeding back up for passages with which they’re familiar.
The app is available on iOS, Android, macOS, and Microsoft Windows devices. That means you can use it on an iPad or iPhone to decipher text quickly. Speechify also features optical character recognition (OCR), which uses AI to read the text in pictures and photographs.
The benefits of immersion reading
Now that you know how immersion reading works, your next question is whether you should try it. The technique offers several benefits, with the following being the most crucial:
Immersion reading improves focus because you can listen to the text as you read. For example, people with concentration issues, such as ADHD, can handle larger reading tasks with immersive reading.
Combining narration with personal reading improves motivation. You can measure your progress because the narration shows when you’re reading correctly.
There are many words that don’t sound exactly as they look. Immersion reading helps here because it teaches pronunciation of everything from simple letter sounds to complex words.
Many who use immersion reading techniques find that their reading speeds improve. This improvement is likely due to a combination of increased comprehension, which leads to greater fluency.
Speechify is an excellent immersion reading tool
With reading aloud being such a vital part of immersion reading, you need a good text to speech tool.
The Speechify app allows you to select from a huge range of AI-generated and natural-sounding voices. It’s available in over 14 languages and can help with everything from basic pronunciation to complicated reading. Additionally, the platform highlights the text as it reads the words aloud, allowing users to easily follow along.
As mentioned, Speechify uses OCR technology to read physical text and words in pictures. Plus, using the Chrome extension allows the app to seamlessly read along with you as you browse the web.
If you’d like to sample Speechify, you can test it out for free today or download the app for your Android or Apple device.
Does immersion reading work?
Studies show that immersion reading improves outcomes, especially among students with reading disabilities. In addition to improving fluency and comprehension, it also boosts motivation.
How do I use immersion reading on the iOS Kindle app?
Activating Whispersync is the easiest way to use immersion reading on the iOS Kindle app.
Is it possible to read a book in one day using immersion reading?
It depends on the book’s length. You can use immersion reading to complete small books in a day. But longer books, such as the later titles in the Harry Potter series, may require several days for even a talented reader to complete.
What is the difference between immersion reading and normal reading?
The main difference is that immersion reading takes a multi-sensory approach. This approach primarily uses narration, though visual aids are used in some cases.
What is the best way to use immersion reading?
The best way to use immersion reading depends on the individual. Some do well with audio narration and text highlighting. Others may use more visual cues, such as illustrations.