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Tutor Tip: Improving Fluency

This tip originally appeared in the July 2022 issue of Tutor News from Dr. Carmine Stewart, VP Programming


Fluency is the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and expression.

If a student is not able to read fluently they will most likely struggle with comprehension. You can tell that a student is fluent by asking them to read a passage out loud.

  • If the student’s reading sounds almost conversational, and they don’t make a lot of errors they are fluent.
  • If a student reads very slowly, in a monotone voice, and has lots of stops and starts, they are not fluent. 

The best way to increase fluency is through repeated practice, and through hearing good models of fluent readers. A good strategy is to have the student read, then have the tutor read as the student follows along, and then have the student read the passage again. 

There is a shortage of emerging reader materials for adults – most reading materials at this level are geared toward children.

Seeds has purchased multiple copies of City Stories by Larissa Phillips to use during our free tutoring sessions. City Stories is an illustrated collection of 24 individual narratives for ADULT BEGINNING READERS at increasing levels of difficulty. The collection reinforces beginning phonics skills and our adult learners have responded positively.

A Good Exercise to Try

Tutors can time a student’s reading of a story with a stopwatch.

Then the student reads along with the tutor.

Then the tutor should time the student reading the story aloud alone a second time.

Most often the student reads with greater speed and accuracy the second time. 

Learn more ways to use simple math to determine fluency.

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