Fluency Instruction in Adults

One of the fundamentals of adult education school programs is reading fluency. Reading fluency simply refers to the speed and ease that beginning readers are able to read with. Fluency however is not a problem of beginning readers alone. Even mature readers sometimes suffer from choppy reading and mispronunciations when they encounter new and unfamiliar texts. To achieve fluent reading however, it is important to develop fast and accurate decoding of the material. However, why is fluent reading important and why should it be incorporated in adult education school programs?

Students who are not fluent usually spend a lot of time decoding rather than understanding what they read. This results in an overall impediment to reading comprehension. Accurate word decoding or recognition will usually not be enough to anyone who wants to improve his or her comprehension of a text. Those who do not develop fluent reading, no matter how smart they are, will always have to struggle with reading slowly and expending great effort at that. In an adult education school, fluency assessment is measured by the number of words that are read correctly and the number of words read over a given time period, that is the number of words read per minute.

Fluency is an issue for adult beginning readers and their fluency is similar to that of children who are beginning readers. Thus, the teaching strategies applied to teaching fluency tend to be similar across all platforms. One of the best ways to teach fluency is the use of computer software fluency program. Studies have shown that adult education school programs that use software have had their students increase their reading fluency faster compared to those that insisted on the primitive traditional method. So what specific strategies have proved effective when teaching fluency?

In one approach, adult learners are taught to read passages loudly or orally as they listen in on the pronunciation from a computer program. Using this method, students were able to reach 90% accuracy on texts given. Other adult education school programs, especially ones that involve beginning ESL readers, focus on having students re-read single words from a text that are potentially difficult, isolating them and practicing on them until accuracy is achieved. After this, they then practice on passage reading. Other programs use a software program to help students identify areas where they lack automaticity and provide an audio-visual practice of these weak areas. When well implemented, multiple strategy training has proved effective in helping adults gain fluency in reading.

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