The expressiveness that students work to develop when they learn to read fluently can also help them understand texts. And expressiveness helps them convey their meaning to others when they read aloud. Researchers sometimes call the pacing and intonation aspects of expressiveness prosody. Prosody is a term related to the sound and structure of poetry, since poems are usually very attentive to things like rhythm, stress, and intonation. One study found that, as readers master prosody, its pacing effects help their brains comprehend meaning; this was true for readers with dyslexia too (Breznitz, 2006).

Maybe you can see how this works in practice. When Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator says “Hasta la vista, baby,” it carries a lot of meaning. Even though it literally means “see you later,” the deadpan tone says the opposite: “We won’t be seeing you anymore. And we don’t like you,” or something like that. The speech of actors is a high standard, but it shows us what to aim for when reading with expression.