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Characteristics of Fluent Versus Nonfluent Readers

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Many individuals with dyslexia are considered "dysfluent," or not fluent in reading due to issues with automatically recognizing words and decoding phonological components. The table below summarizes the characteristics of fluent versus nonfluent readers and provides recommendations for strategies to improve reading fluency.

Fluent Readers Why Nonfluent Readers (Many Dyslexics) What to Do
Decode effortlessly, with automaticity and with average reading rates or better for age and/or grade level. Fluent readers read more, more extensively, and with a variety of printed materials. Decode laboriously, without automaticity and with lower than expected reading rates for age/or grade level.
  • Provide many meaningful opportunities to read and reread (repeated readings method) a variety of leveled books and other materials chosen by the student.
  • Provide intensive library support two- to three-hour literacy blocks.
Place a reading emphasis on comprehending words within the context of phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. Fluent readers have acquired a variety of word recognition strategies that make word reading for the most part effortless. Place a reading emphasis on identifying or decoding words in isolation before discerning meaning because of word recognition difficulties.
  • Provide intensive word study support within the context of meaningful text as part of a reading workshop or activity within an intensive literacy block.
Have extensive sight vocabularies. Fluent readers have more exposure to print and reading practice. Have limited sight vocabularies as compared to fluent readers of similar age or developmental level.
  • Practice learning frequently encountered reading words as sight words.
  • Oral reading activities (choral reading, radio reading, paired reading, NIM or Neurological Impress Method, echo reading, readers' theatre, reading aloud).
Are able to effectively handle miscues or errors in word reading. Fluent readers have acquired a variety of strategies for fixing miscues or errors in word reading. Often rely on one or two "fix-it" strategies when problem-solving during word-recognition.
  •  Model and explicitly teach a variety of word strategies to use when encountering unfamiliar or new words.
  • Word strategy bookmarks cue the reader and should be consistently used until fluency is adequate or satisfactory.
  • Guided reading times provide opportunities for teaching flexible and varied use of word strategies.
Can effectively decode and comprehend text simultaneously. Fluent readers effectively key in on main ideas and important information when reading; they can accurately summarize or paraphrase readings; they are able to self-monitor comprehension and organize information learned from reading as needed. Experience a diminished ability to comprehend text because more cognitive energies are spent on decoding and identifying words.
  • Choose a segment of text to reread until it sounds like "people talking."
  • Provide story grammar frameworks.
  • Use marginal notes.
  • Explicitly teach self-questioning strategies to use when reading.
  • Use graphic organizers before/after readings.
  • Routinely request story or text retellings.
  • Practice summarizing/paraphrasing sections of text.
Adjust reading rates according to reading demands. With frequent and extensive reading practice and feedback, fluent readers become flexible readers, adjusting reading rates as needed. Have difficulty adjusting reading rates according to reading purpose and text difficulty.
  • Model various ways to adjust reading rate and link to the reading purpose and text difficulty including scanning, skimming, rauding, text mastery, memorizing.
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