What is Fluency and How to Achieve Fluency for Reading Comprehension
Fluency is the other term for automaticity in reading. It is the ability to read words and passages accurately, easily, and automatically in an unconscious rapid manner. It is the characteristic of fluent readers or skilled readers. They read words instantly but correctly – a phase where students can focus on the meaning of the words followed by the text to comprehend and do not have to invest their attention in decoding (sounding out and connecting) the words.
It also means that when the students see words, they do not sound out the words anymore and they read the words quickly and unconsciously. They are not aware of how they are reading as they are reading words.
How do you know if the students lack fluency?
Their reading is extremely slow, and laborious and they are still sounding out words. They are hesitant to read, mispronounce, omit, or add sounds and/or words. They tend to skip over sounds and words because they are unsure how to read and cannot decode them. The problem of comprehension for struggling students with dyslexia is also caused by a lack of fluency. They are so preoccupied with deciphering the words or passages that they do not have time to comprehend words or passages.
The tendency to omit and/or skip over sounds and words is not a result of any vision problem in most cases but a result of a problem matching the print to sounds accurately, efficiently, and completely. To confirm this theory, have the students' eyesight checked by an ophthalmologist but in the meantime, ask them to write the word 'home' especially if they are reading the written word ‘home’ as a' house' under the picture of a house or ask them to write the words such as saw and form; if they can write both words correctly but they are reading the saw as was and form as from, the problem is not a vision but mismatching the print of the sounds.
Why is it necessary to reach the fluency level?
Fluency is necessary so that the students can focus on the meaning of the words and can concentrate on comprehending the passages instead of thinking about how to sound out words. Although some dyslexics, like me, are slow readers, the students should not sound out words one by one.
How to build fluency?
Repetition, drill, and practice overlearning words and passages! To become fluent readers or skilled readers, the students need repeated oral reading with guidance to make sure they are reading the words accurately. It is similar to learning to play an instrument such as a piano or learning to ride a bike. The students need to overlearn the lesson or how to pedal the bike until it becomes unconscious.
Learning the sounds and connecting the sounds correctly from one-syllable words and reading these words instantly is the first step to achieving fluency skills and once this phase is accomplished the two-syllable words will follow then three-syllable words and more.
Along with learning how to read words, learning how to spell should follow. It means once the students know how to read the words: cab, shock, from, spread, etc., with strategies and rules of the language, the students should be able to spell these words as well, followed by two-syllable then three-syllable words and longer words to spell.
Of course, there is no magic bullet to reach one-syllable word fluency in reading and spelling, because it depends on many factors such as the severity of the student’s language problem and how often he sees the reading specialist.
The same as with our students who cannot read and spell before our dyslexia treatment, some of them have reached the grade one level in reading and spelling within just 15 sessions with less practice while the others need more sessions and more practice, but remember at school the students learn the one-syllable simple words from kindergarten until grade one, or even until grade two!
What to do then?
The teacher must assess to find the root cause of the problems. For example, if the students have difficulty reading the three-syllable words, the instructor must revisit the two-syllable words and if the students have problems with two-syllable words, she must instruct again the words with one syllable. If the students have problems reading the one-syllable words, she needs to teach the sounds and how to connect the sounds correctly because the sounds of the language are the foundation for learning to read, write, spell and comprehend.
Finally, while it is still in progress, we are selling copies of our comprehensive and systematic word list in structured and fluency for reading and spelling practice to help your child better himself in reading and spelling.
to be continued...