THE Scriptures state that it is God’s will that people of all sorts “come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4) In accord with that, when we read aloud from the Bible, our desire to convey accurate knowledge should influence how we read.
The ability to read aloud from the Bible and from publications that explain the Bible is important for youths and older ones alike. As Witnesses of Jehovah, we have a responsibility to share with others a knowledge of Jehovah and his ways. That often involves reading to one person or to a small group. We also do such reading within the family circle. In the Theocratic Ministry School, there are appropriate opportunities for brothers and sisters, young and old, to receive counsel with a view to improving their oral reading.
Reading the Bible publicly, whether to individuals or to a congregation, is something to take seriously. The Bible is inspired of God. Additionally, “the word of God is alive and exerts power . . . and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) God’s Word contains priceless knowledge that is available from no other source. It can help a person to know the only true God and to cultivate a fine relationship with him as well as to cope successfully with the problems of life. It explains the way to eternal life in God’s new world. Our goal should be to read the Bible to the best of our ability.—Ps. 119:140; Jer. 26:2.
How to Read Accurately. There are many facets to effective reading, but developing accuracy is the first step. That means endeavoring to read exactly what is on the printed page. Be careful not to skip words, drop word endings, or misread words because of their similarity to other words.
In order to read words correctly, you need to understand the context. That will require careful preparation. In time, as you develop the ability to look ahead and consider the flow of thought, your accuracy in reading will improve.
Punctuation and diacritics are important elements of written language. Punctuation may indicate where to pause, how long to pause, and possibly the need for inflection. In some languages, failure to change tone when required by the punctuation may change a question into a statement, or it may alter the meaning altogether. At times, of course, the function of punctuation is largely grammatical. In many languages it is impossible to read accurately without giving careful attention to diacritics—both those that are written and those that are understood from the context. These influence the sound of the characters with which they are associated. Be sure to get acquainted with the way that punctuation and diacritics are used in your language. This is a key to reading in a meaningful way. Remember that your objective should be to convey thoughts, not merely to say words.
Practice is required if you are going to cultivate the ability to read accurately. Read just one paragraph, and then do it again and again until you can read it without any mistakes. Then go on to the next paragraph. Finally, endeavor to read several pages of material without skipping, repeating, or misreading any words. After you have taken those steps, ask someone to monitor your reading and point out any mistakes that you may make.
In some parts of the world, poor eyesight and inadequate lighting contribute to difficulty in reading. If it is possible to give these the needed attention, improvement in reading will undoubtedly result.
In time, brothers who read well may be invited to share in the public reading of study material at the Congregation Book Study and the Watchtower Study. But to care well for such a privilege, more is required than just being able to say the words correctly. To become an effective public reader in the congregation, you will need to develop good habits in personal reading. This involves appreciating that each word in a sentence plays a role. You cannot ignore some of them and get a clear picture of what is being said. If you misread words, even when reading to yourself, the meaning of the sentence will be distorted. Misreading may result from failure to consider diacritics or the context in which words are used. Put forth an effort to understand what each word means in the setting in which it appears. Consider, too, how the punctuation affects the meaning of the sentence. Remember that thoughts are usually conveyed by groups of words. Take note of these so that when reading aloud you read word groupings—phrases and clauses—instead of simply words. Clearly understanding what you are reading is an important step toward being able to convey accurate knowledge to others by public reading.
It was to an experienced Christian elder that the apostle Paul wrote: “Continue applying yourself to public reading.” (1 Tim. 4:13) This is obviously an area in which all of us will find room for improvement.