Echo Reading: Definition, Strategy & Examples

John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Expert Contributor
Sasha Blakeley

Sasha Blakeley has a Bachelor's in English Literature from McGill University and a TEFL certification. She has been teaching English in Canada and Taiwan for seven years.

Echo reading is a useful methodology to help struggling readers. We will define the term, give examples, and explore strategies that can be utilized by educators to employ echo reading and achieve successful results with students. Updated: 06/04/2020

What is Echo Reading?

Echo reading can help a struggling student who enjoys reading but cannot keep up

Echo reading is an innovative concept in which the educator reads a phrase or paragraph, and then the student repeats it back to the educator. Echo reading is often called rereading, but technically there are differences between the two. A teacher can instruct parents on this methodology so it can be utilized in the home. It can help a struggling student improve in several areas including:

  • Confidence
  • Comprehension
  • Identifying unknown words
  • Improving listening skills
  • Proper phrasing
  • Vocabulary

Echo reading is usually employed for students in elementary school, and on occasion for middle school students. It is rarely utilized at the high school level. It should be noted that echo reading has also been found to be a helpful technology when teaching students with learning disabilities, including speech impairments and Down Syndrome.

Ideally, the technique works best if the reading material is just above the student's current reading level. If the material is too difficult, the student will probably become frustrated. If the material is too easy, the technique may not be beneficial. Another concept that is helpful is to use a book that the student is familiar with or really likes.

Echo Reading Steps

1) First, the teacher reads a sentence to the student. Later, as the student progresses, the teacher can read two sentences or maybe even an entire paragraph. A properly trained fellow student with high-level reading skills can also perform this task when permitted.

2) The student tracks the text with her eyes. Some teachers will track the text with their finger or permit the student to do this. Other teachers will experiment with using a combination of both methods to see which works best with each individual student. Either way, it is critical to the success of echo reading that the student can clearly see all the words.

3) The student now recites the passage back to the teacher.

4) The teacher reads the next sentence.

5) The student repeats the sentence.

6) This process is repeated until the teacher feels the student is too frustrated or fatigued.

If a student commits an error while reading, or hesitates for more than a few seconds, the teacher should immediately identify this as a need for improvement. The educator should gently announce stop, point to the error word, and say the word correctly. The student repeats the word, and then backtracks and repeats the entire sentence. The exercise continues onward from that point.

Echo reading is a form of rereading, and the teacher should not hesitate to have the student repeat a difficult word or phrase over and over again until it is mastered. In fact, with beginning students, it may be desirable to just learn a word or two at a time, instead of learning phrases and sentences.

Since echo reading is often used for beginning readers, it makes sense that a teacher uses pictures to reinforce the words that the student is rereading. Echo reading can also be done in pairs, or even in groups of three or more at the discretion of the teacher.


Perhaps the main concept that is emphasized in echo reading is that of chunking. Many students that struggle with reading comprehension tend to read one word at a time. By the time the student gets through the entire sentence, she may have forgotten how it started. With chunking, the student reads a group of words together, ideally three to five words. This technique also helps students to understand long, complicated sections by breaking them up into smaller phrases.

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Utilizing Echo Reading for Different Students

Now that you have learned the methodology behind Echo Reading, it is time to think about how this technique can be tailored to suit individual students. Below are three scenarios, each with a different type of student with their own challenges and needs. Your task is to choose one of the three scenarios and then build a lesson plan that suits the described student and implements Echo Reading in a way that will benefit them. Remember to make sure your lesson is age and ability appropriate. Think of how you might use chunking or sight words in order to support your student's specific challenges, and refer back to the steps of Echo Reading to build your lesson.

Scenario 1

You are teaching a 7-year-old student who struggles with reading comprehension. The student tends to rush through the paragraphs that she is assigned to read and doesn't seem to be grasping what the words actually say. Design a lesson to help the student slow down when they read. In what ways will Echo Reading be beneficial? How might you need to pace the lesson so the student doesn't get bored or frustrated too easily?

Scenario 2

Your student is 10 and has no trouble with comprehension. He is able to tell you with good accuracy what a passage or reading is about, and he can even discuss basic themes. However, he struggles with a stutter, which interrupts the flow and confidence of his reading. How can you use Echo Reading in your lesson plan to support this student? Can you think of ways to use things like sight words as a tool improve his reading?

Scenario 3

Your student is 11 and has Down Syndrome. She is enthusiastic and eager to participate in reading activities in class, but can often get frustrated by tasks that are too repetitive. Think about the idea of using visual aids to reinforce certain words. Do you think this method would be helpful for this student? Why? For this scenario, you are encouraged to do extra research into the specific learning needs of young students with Down Syndrome, so that you can better understand how to support such a student.

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