Tuesday, March 10, 2009


What is Fluency?

Fluent readers are able to read words accurately and effortlessly, with appropriate expression. The can recognize words automatically. Readers who have not yet developed fluency read slowly, word by word. Their oral reading is very choppy.

Why is fluency important?

Fluent readers do not have to concentrate on decoding the words,so they can focus their attention on understanding the meaning of the text. Less fluent readers, however, need to concentrate more on figuring out what the words say, leaving them little time and mental energy for understanding the text. Thus, the lack of fluency often results in poor comprehension.

First of all, children at primary school learn to read – later they read to learn. If a child’s fluency is poor and they can’t understand fully what they are reading in class this will affect their progress and academic achievement. For example if they are taking a test, it will take longer for them to complete and answer the questions. They may make mistakes due to misreading or misunderstanding what they have read.

Fluency and dyslexic children

Most dyslexic children will have poor fluency as they will have difficulty with decoding words and also they often find it hard to recognize words automatically.
Reitsma (1983 ) – states that :

“Some children need only a few exposures to making a letter or letter pattern automatic. Children with reading disabilities sometimes need as many as 40 to 100 exposures before the letter patterns becomes automatic. The average child needs between 4 and 14 exposures to a new word to recognize it automatically. Children with reading difficulties may need 40 or more exposures”

This really brought it home to me that as a parent it is imperative that I make sure my child undertakes reading practise everyday .The trouble is that often dyslexic kids read less due to the fact they don’t like reading because they struggle with it. !!This has a spiral effect as the less the child reads the worse the situation gets

Fluency Techniques

In Turkey most teachers rely primarily on round-robin reading to develop fluency. In round-robin reading, students take turns reading parts of a text aloud .Round-robin reading however is not very effective in increasing children’s fluency.

Here are some of the reasons why:

Students only read small amounts of text for a short time.
It invites inattention and disruption in the class – other students get bored waiting for their turn.
It consumes valuable classroom time.
It causes anxiety and embarrassment for students struggling with
reading ,such as dyslexic children.

If possible talk to your child’s teacher and explain the problems your child has with reading outloud ( round robin reading ).It is preferable for dyslexic children not to be forced to read outloud. If they do have to do it they should be given the text before to pre-read it.

Here are some fluency activities to try with your child at home :

With all of these techniques at the beginning select easy materials and progress as their reading improves. Ask your child to follow the story with their finger to be sure he/she is looking at the words.Make sure your son or daughter reads every day.This is especially important in the long summer holiday.

Partner Reading involves sharing reading. You read a sentence or half the page, and ask your child to read one sentence or half the page

Echo Reading involves you reading one line of story and your child repeating the same line after you have read. Increase the number of lines read at one time as the child's reading improves.

Choral Reading involves reading a story together. Lead the reading by using expression and appropriate pacing.

Taped Stories provide good samples for listening to fluent reading. There are a lot of these available in the UK but here in Turkey not so many.As a result parents could make their own tapes by recording themselves as they read a book to their child.

Paired Reading - A parent will read aloud together with the child. The child is allowed to decide when they wish to read aloud alone by making a signal. If a child makes a mistake while reading solo, the parent indicates the word, waits for four seconds, and then provides the correct word. The parent and the child then return to reading together, until the child signals that he wishes to read alone again.For more information on this technique look at an earlier article labelled paired reading.

Reader's Theatre .In this you read as if you were in a play.Each person is alloted a role from the book and then they only read when his/her character speaks.You will need to find books or stories which include a lot of conversation.

Repeated Reading involves your child reading the same book or story more than once in the same week. Preferably choose a short passage or story ( about 50-200 words) .You could also tape record your child reading orally, before and after you begin this activity – to demonstrate progress made You could time them and see how many words they can read per minute . You could then record the amount of errors and words read per min and use this to illustrate progress.

Reader's Theatre .In this you read as if you were in a play.Each person is alloted a role from the book and then they only read when his/her character speaks.You will need to find books or stories which include a lot of conversation.

If you persevere with some of these techniques you will see an improvement in your child's reading - but remember it takes time and patience !!!

A useful article from Reading Rockets about fluency with other links:


1 comment:

Mark Pennington said...

For an analysis of why round robin and popcorn reading are pedagogical flops, visit http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/why-round-robin-and-popcorn-reading-are-evil/