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According to the National Reading Panel, the four components of reading are:  comprehension, vocabulary, fluency and alphabetics.  As ESOL teachers we know how to teach vocabulary and comprehension, but fluency and alphabetics are terra incognita.  So here, I introduce four classics and four more contemporary activities that focus on specific skill development in reading fluency. 


Please note:  All fluency activities occur after students have read the text silently and demonstrated their comprehension.


The Classics:

1.   Read Along with a Teacher or a Recording

What:   Students read along silently as they listen to the teacher or a recording of the text. 

Why:  Models fluency, expressive intonation and phrasing, and accurate pronunciation. 


2.   Echo reading

What:  The teacher reads a phrase or sentence aloud and students repeat, imitating phrasing and intonation. To better hear their own voices, students can plug one ear.

Why:  Models accurate phrasing, intonation, and fluency.


3.  Choral reading

What:  The teacher and students read together in unison.

Why:  Provides support for weaker readers AND the whole class benefits from re-reading the text.


4.  Paired Reading

What: In pairs, students take turns reading and re-reading the same passage to each other. 

Why:  Provides fluency practice in a supportive partnership.


Fluency Activities for More Focused Skill Development:

5.  Mismatch Read Aloud

What:  This approach was developed by reading expert Thomas Stitch.  The teacher supplies students with a printed text and reads it aloud, occasionally substituting a different word for a word students see.  Students circle the mismatched words.   Note:  The teacher substitutes words close in meaning, for example: pink for red, or location for place

Why: Encourages fluency AND accurate decoding. 


6.  Timed Reading

What:  Students read the same text from the beginning in short bursts (1-3 minutes).  Students mark how far they get each time.  With multiple re-readings, students get further and further along in the text.

Why:  Encourages rapid reading, forces repetitive reading, builds automaticity in word recognition, and strengthens students’ confidence.  


7.  Recorded Reading

What:  Students record themselves reading a text.  They listen to themselves and record again until they are satisfied with their delivery. 

Extension:  The teacher listens to the student’s recording and marks errors in the printed text.  The teacher records a model of the marked words or phrases so that the student can listen and record again.


Why:  Encourages repetitive reading, builds accuracy, and requires students to self-assess.


8.   Performance reading

What:  In small groups, students prepare a performance of a poem, skit, story, or article.   Students divide the text up into sections and practice reading their parts aloud to each other. Then students perform for the class.

Why:  Provides a natural motivation for re-reading and lively expression.