What is fluency?
Fluency is reading expressively with accuracy and at a good pace. It is one of the key components of learning to read. It is the progression from developing automatic word recognition skills to comprehension.
Dr Deslea Konza defines fluency as the ability to read text accurately, quickly and with expression. Dr Tim Rasinki explains it as ‘reading with and for meaning’.
Fluency is made up of three core components:
- Accuracy is the reading of words correctly.
- Rate is the speed of word identification. It is usually recorded as words read per minute.
- Prosody is the sound of the reading. This can be explained as the expression used when reading.
The following video discusses the three components of fluency.
Why is fluency important?
Fluent reading acts as a bridge between automatic word reading and comprehension. It is the link between reading words quickly and effortlessly, and understanding and comprehending text.
The reader needs to have developed the skills of phonological awareness, phonics and have a good sight word vocabulary to develop into a fluent reader. These foundational skills of word recognition need to be recalled quickly to the point of automatic recall. This automaticity of decoding and recall of words is to become unconscious. This then allows the cognitive space for the reader to access the meaning of the text.
Watch Dr Tim Rasinski discussing the definition of reading fluency, based on his research.
How to teach fluency
Explicit teaching and instruction are required in order to support children in becoming a fluent reader. Types of instruction include modelled fluent reading by the teacher or another fluent reader, repeated reading of texts, paired reading, wide and deep reading across many types of texts
Teaching strategies include repeated readings of class texts and poems, performances such as Reader’s Theatre, singing songs and sharing riddles and jokes.
In this video a teacher reflects on how she adapted her daily teaching to include explicit fluency instruction.
In this video a teacher is working with a student on the rhythm of reading.