Reading Fluency Strategies
Reading fluency strategies can be taught and readers can improve their fluency rate. First of all, what is fluency? Fluency is a combination of the speed and accuracy in which a person can read the words in a reading passage. When the words become more difficult and begin to challenge the reader’s decoding ability, his fluency level generally decreases. A reader can have a low fluency rate when first learning to read or when reading difficult material for the first time, but as he becomes more skilled in reading, his rate of reading (fluency) usually increases.
Comprehension can suffer with a poor fluency rate (slow reading with many errors). When it takes too long to sound out each sound in each word, the brain can become overtaxed or distracted, and some of the meaning or comprehension of the material can be lost. When words are read inaccurately, the reader cannot form the correct mental picture of what he is reading, and as a consequence, his comprehension can be poor. Fluency rate is an important reading component that supports comprehension ability and great comprehension is the goal for anything we read.
There are many ways to improve fluency rate and we will discuss several strategies in this article.
The first strategy is keeping a graph of how many words per minute the reader read a passage or story. The parent/teacher should choose a passage to read based on the readers’s reading level. The parent/teacher should read the passage first to demonstrate how the passage should be read. Then the reader can practice reading the passage silently several times and then out loud to himself several times. After the initial practice, the parent/teacher can time the reader as he reads the passage out loud. The results can be graphed using the number of correct words and the time it took to read.
The graph is a powerful motivator for a struggling reader. The graph gives the reader a visual tool for seeing their improvement in how many words per minute they can read. This is not about speed reading a passage, but reading at a natural speaking speed. After several timed practice readings, the reader will see a noticeable improvement in the graph. Then move on to a new passage or story and repeat the process.
The next strategy is to have the reader listen to himself while reading. The hand held plastic fluency phone is a great strategy for improving fluency. The parent/teacher can demonstrate the correct reading of an appropriate leveled passage. Then the reader can read the passage outloud to himself while speaking into the phone. This lets him hear how he sounds while reading and activates additional areas of the brain. He can repeat the passage several times to himself into the phone and then read outloud for the parent/teacher after the practice. Reading into the phone always motivates the reader to read the passage several times.
The reader can also record his voice while reading the passage for the first time. Then he can listen to his recording and think about where he can improve in his reading out loud of the passage. Then he can use the phone piece to practice reading the passage outloud and then record the same passage again. He needs to ask himself how he improved on this second recording and could he use more practice. If he thinks he could improve on reading this passage, he could repeat the process again. His results could also be graphed.
Another reading fluency strategy is to have several recorded stories and passages at the readers reading level. The reader can choose which story or passage to practice. For the first reading, he can listen to the story while he follows along with the written words of passage. For the second reading, he can read along with the audio version. If he couldn’t keep up with the audio, he can practice several readings using the phone and then replay the audio. When he can read the passage at the speed of the recording, he can move on to another passage or story.
Sight word practice is another way to improve fluency. Fluency level increases when sight words increase. Sight words are words that the reader knows instantly and does not have to take the time to sound out. More information and tips on how to increase sight words can be found here.
I have found these to be the most effective reading fluency strategies in my work as a Reading Specialist.
Click here to see the reading fluency activities that I found to be the most effective in increasing fluency rates quickly and were also fun to do!