Research School Network: NEW BLOG – The Crucial Role of Reading Fluency By Becky Grimshaw


NEW BLOG – The Crucial Role of Reading Fluency

By Becky Grimshaw

by Manchester Communication Research School
on the

Reading is not merely about decoding words on a page; it’s about understanding, interpreting, and ultimately, enjoying a variety of written language. One key element that paves the way for this multifaceted literacy approach is reading fluency. In this blog we’ll delve into the importance of teaching reading fluency and its impact on academic success.

Gateway to Comprehension: 

According to the EEF fluency is the ability to apply and identify the correct pronunciation of written words immediately and without conscious effort. It involves smoothly and effortlessly decoding words while also comprehending and interpreting the text.’ (EEF) Reading fluency serves as a bridge between decoding words and comprehending the meaning behind them. Fluent readers can effortlessly recognise words, allowing them to use their cognitive resources toward understanding the text instead of recognising words. This connection between fluency and comprehension is a cornerstone of effective reading. In a classroom, a teacher could promote reading fluency by implementing activities such as repeated reading’ (See Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2 Guidance Report p19 for more information). This involves students practising reading a paragraph at a time aiming to increase their fluency whilst maintaining accuracy. This strategy helps build automaticity in word recognition, fostering fluency and freeing up cognitive resources for better comprehension.

Accelerating Vocabulary Development: 

Fluent readers experience a multitude of words within a given timeframe. This exposure contributes to an increased vocabulary as students become familiar with various words and their contextual meanings. A strong vocabulary will help comprehension and communication skills that are needed for academic success. To accelerate vocabulary development in a classroom teachers can incorporate activities like repeated word exposure through reading, as well as how to use them in new contexts encouraging them to use them regularly. Pre-teaching and discussing new words when reading can enhance exposure , understanding, and application of diverse words, fostering a richer vocabulary for improved comprehension and fluency skills.

Increasing Academic Performance: 

Fluent reading is not confined to the English Language classroom; it is essential across all academic disciplines and subjects. Whether interpreting a history textbook, tackling a science article, or understanding maths word problems, reading fluency plays an important role in understanding complex concepts and achieving in a wide range of subjects. In a classroom, a cross-curricular approach to reading can be done by using subject-specific text in various disciplines. For instance, in a science class, students could read and discuss articles related to the current topic using strategies such as reciprocal reading’ (see Improving Literacy in Secondary Schools Guidance Report’ p15 for more information). This not only reinforces content knowledge but also promotes reading fluency in diverse contexts, enhancing the ability to comprehend complex concepts across different academic subjects.

Building Confidence:

When students achieve fluency, they can experience a boost in confidence. The ability to read smoothly and with expression creates a sense of mastery and achievement, reconstructing the reading process from a daunting task into a more enjoyable activity. This confidence can positively influence a student’s attitude toward learning and academic learning. Teachers can foster confidence in reading by organising guided oral reading instruction’ sessions (see Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2 Guidance Report p19 for more information) where students take turns reading aloud in a supportive environment. This collaborative and non-judgemental setting allows students to practise fluency, receive positive feedback, and build confidence in their reading abilities.

Nurturing a Lifelong Love of Reading: Beyond the academic realm, reading fluency lays the foundation for a lifelong love of reading. As students experience the joy of effortlessly navigating texts, they are more likely to view reading as a pleasurable activity rather than a chore. This positive association with reading can have lasting effects on personal and academic growth.

Teaching reading fluency is not just a stepping stone; it’s a catalyst for academic success and a lifelong love for literature. As teachers, parents, and advocates for literacy, we must recognise the important impact of fluency on the pathway toward creating confident, competent, and enthusiastic readers.


EEF, Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2 Guidance Report, p19

EEF, Improving Literacy in Secondary School, p15

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