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 Rasinski 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.

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.

Watch Dr Tim Rasinski discussing the definition of reading fluency, based on his research.

Dr Tim Rasinski and reading fluency

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.

This animation explores the journey of a reader as they develop fluency.

Developing fluency - the journey of a reader

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 the following video, a teacher reflects on how she adapted her daily teaching to include explicit fluency instruction.

Explicit fluency instruction

In the following video, a teacher is working with a student on the rhythm of reading.

Implementing fluency instruction

Classroom resources

Resources to support explicit Fluency instruction are available in the Universal Resources Hub (staff only).

The Fluency assessment tool (staff only) enables teachers to gain an insight into the oral reading fluency ability of their students.

Professional learning

Effective reading: Fluency

Professional learning opportunities in the practical application of evidence-based teaching of reading are available on the Literacy and numeracy professional learning web page.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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