How to work on reading fluency?

Reading fluency is a big challenge for students because it relates to comprehension . As texts grow longer and more complex, the transitioning reader must read fluently in order to focus on the meaning of the text. So what is reading fluency? What are the key elements of this skill? And howworkthefluencyofreading?

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Fluency is the ability to read text with precision, speed and expression. Reading fluency is important because it provides a bridge between word recognition and word comprehension.

When a reader reads fluently, he automatically recognizes the words. He quickly groups them together to help him understand what he is reading. He reads aloud, effortlessly and with expression. His reading seems natural, as if he were speaking.

Readers who have not yet developed fluency and read slowly, word by word, their oral reading is jerky.

Reading fluency: definition

Fluency is the ability to read a text quickly and accurately while respecting the prosody, whether reading silently or aloud. In other words, it is the ability to read text quickly and accurately, with few errors and little effort to read, with expression, with appropriate pauses, phrasing and articulation.

Reading fluency consists of at least these key elements: accurate reading of text connected to conversational rhythm with appropriate prosody or expression.

Moreover, transitioning readers suffer from at least one of these aspects of reading: they make many mistakes, read slowly, or do not read with proper expression and phrasing.

The 4 key elements of reading fluency

Reading fluency is the ability to easily read a text. It consists, in fact, of four elements: precision, speed, expression and comprehension. Each part is important, but none is sufficient on its own. A good reader is able to coordinate the four aspects of fluency.

1. Word Automation

Reading words correctly is an important part of developing fluency. Children should be able to read words easily without having to stop to decode them, enunciate them or break them down into pieces. When children can easily and accurately read the words of a text, they are able to think about what they are reading rather than putting all their effort into understanding the words. To read text fluently, a child must be able to read almost every word with ease. Indeed, the objective of fluent reading is that the child reads at least 98 words out of 100, with precision and ease. Accuracy combines with the other three elements of fluency to produce fluent readers.

2. Speed

When children read fluently, they read at an efficient pace. This means they read quickly. Speed ​​doesn’t mean kids should read as fast as they can. Speed ​​must be combined with precision, expression and comprehension, in order to produce fluent reading.

To measure the speed of reading, the teacher has the student read individually on a text of his level. It notes the number of words read correctly in 60 seconds.

How to work on reading fluency 

How to measure reading fluency?

Reading Fluence Calculation:

  • Reading levels alone do not tell whether students are reading fluently.
  • Reading fluency is calculated by taking the total number of words read in one minute and subtracting the number of errors. Count only one error per word.
  • This gives you the correct words per minute. These represent the fluency level of the students.
How to work on reading fluency 

 Example: if the student read 53 words and made 7 errors in one minute, he had 46 correct words in one minute.

3. Phrase

Fluency refers to the ability to read in a way that resembles spoken language. This means the child uses appropriate emotion to read aloud, pauses for periods and commas, and underlines important words. The expression also shows that the child understands what he reads.

4. Understanding

Fluency is the bridge between the ability to read (or decode) words and understanding what is being read. The real purpose of reading fluency is to help children read text with ease, so they can focus on understanding what they are reading. The human brain is amazing, but it can only handle so many tasks at once. If a child has trouble identifying words, their brain must focus all its energy on finding the words, rather than understanding what they are reading. When the child is able to combine precision, rhythm, expression and comprehension, we speak of reading fluency.

Why is fluency important?

Reading fluency is the ability to read text with accuracy, speed and expression. It is important because it makes the link between word recognition and comprehension.

Indeed, many researchers have found that fluency is strongly correlated with reading comprehension, i.e. when a student reads fluently, they are likely to understand what they are reading.

Why are reading fluency and reading comprehension so strongly correlated?

People have a limited amount of mental energy. If you want to multitask or become proficient at a complex task like reading, you must first master the tasks within it so that you can perform them automatically. For example, a reader who must focus their attention on decoding words may not have enough mental energy to think about the meaning of the text. On the other hand, a competent reader who can automatically decode the words can then devote all his attention to understanding the text. To become proficient readers, our students must become automatic with the text so that they can pay attention to its meaning.

Strategies for working on reading fluency

Here are some strategies to develop and work on reading fluency in CP, CE1 , CE2 and for the other levels. However, before using these techniques, you should assess your students and determine their needs. If several students need help, you can create lessons for the whole class, based on chorus reading or reader theater. If there are only a few students, you may decide to work with them in small groups on reading fluency.

Model fluent reading

To be able to read fluently, students must first hear and understand what fluent reading is. From there, they will be more likely to transfer those experiences into their own reading. The most effective way to help your students is to read to them aloud, often and with great expression. Choose selections carefully. Expose them to a wide variety of genres, including poetry, excerpts from speeches, folk and fairy tales with rich, lyrical language — texts that will engage your students and engage them in the experience of reading.

After a reading aloud session, ask your students: “After listening to my way of reading, can you tell me what I have done that resembles what good readers do? “. Encourage students to share their thoughts. Also ask them to think about how a good reader keeps the listener’s attention.

Do repeat readings in class

Repeated readings are a way to help students recognize high-frequency words more easily, thereby strengthening their reading fluency. Have students practice reading by reading short passages aloud to promote fluency.

For example, choose a short poem to start with, preferably one that fits into your current unit of study, and transpose it onto an overhead. Make a copy of the poem for each student. Read the poem aloud several times, while your students listen and follow along. Take a moment to discuss reading behaviors such as phrasing (i.e. the ability to read multiple words together in one breath), rate (how quickly we read), and intonation (the l emphasis we place on certain words or phrases).

Next, ask your students to do “echo reading,” where you read a line and have all the students repeat it to you. After the echo reading, have the students read the entire poem together, in “choral reading.”

Promote sentence reading in class

Fluency is reading sentences fluently, as opposed to word-for-word. To help students read sentences better, start with a great poem.

After choosing a poem, write its verses on sentence strips, which serve as cue cards, to show students how good readers group parts of text together rather than stating each word separately. Present the strips one at a time and have the students read the sentences together. Reinforce sentence reading by using the same poem in guided reading and pointing to the passages you read in class.

Hire tutors to help you

Offer support to your non-fluent readers by asking tutors (Teaching assistants, parent volunteers or older students) to help you. The tutor and student can simultaneously read aloud a pre-selected text. By providing positive feedback when the reader reads well and re-reading passages when they have difficulty, the tutor provides a helpful type of individual support. Sessions can be short (15 minutes maximum). Additionally, if you provide tutors with text you plan to use in an upcoming group lesson, you can give your non-fluent readers a boost before the next lesson.

Try Reading Theater in the Classroom

Drama, being an oral performance of a text, is one of the best ways to promote fluency. In this exercise, meaning is conveyed through expression and intonation. The emphasis is therefore on interpreting the text rather than memorizing it .

Getting started is easy. Simply give each student a copy of the text and read it aloud, as you would any other literary text. After your read aloud, do an echo read and choral read of the text to engage the whole class. Once the class has practiced enough, choose students to read the different roles. Prepare some simple props and costumes and invite other classes to watch the performance.


  • “Working fluency”, Ministry of National Education and Youth
  • Cebe, S. & Goigoux, R. (2007). Design a didactic tool to improve the teaching of reading comprehension. Landmarks, failures in learning to read

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