Fluency is a very important factor in many fields of work such as in schools, public and private sectors. It is requirement in the application of proper communication methods. This means, it is applied both in oral and written communications methods. Fluency refers to both reading and language. The two are often confused with one another. Reading fluency is the ability to read the texts with greater accuracy and at a high speed, while the proficiency in a language which is often foreign one is referred to as language fluency. (Cummins, 1989)
In this particular essay, I am tackling the reading fluency which can be defined as the ability to read with speed, accuracy and proper expression. Fluency is not an easy task and most children and students in higher class who have not learnt to read with fluency finds it very difficult in their learning. This is because, lack of fluency hinder the understanding and meaning of sentences in a text. This leads to poor understanding of the whole text at the end of their reading. Fluent reading makes the readers to utilize less energy in their reading.
This enables them to have proper expression of the meanings in the texts. Whether a child is reading aloud or in silent mood, he/ she reads in phrases and adds intonation which are appropriate. Thus there reading becomes smooth and full of expressions. (Cummins, 1989) Contrary to fluent readers, non- fluent reader make their reading to sound choppy and awkward. In addition, they make a lot of mistakes by either omitting some of the words. This makes many sentences to lack meaning, and in general sense the whole to text remains to be a mess to them. Their decoding skills are hindered and hence they read laboriously.
In order to achieve fluency, three or more components must be incorporated in reading. If the three components are put in practices, then fluency is achieved without any objections. First and foremost is the component of accuracy. This is also known as automaticity. However, there is a slight difference between the two terms. Automaticity applies to the fast, effortless word recognition that comes with a great deal of reading practice. It refers to the child’s or any other person’s ability to read words in a text without missing its pronunciations.
Some of the children find it very difficult to read because they cannot make the pronunciations of some words. This is made as difficult as the child is weak in combining syllables of a word. So, lack of phonemic awareness act as a barriers to fluency. This necessitates the child to be having a familiarity of word pronunciation. He can do so by reading some of the text especially the poetic kind of writing or songs. The third component is prosody. This one of the most ignored factor which most student lacks. They do not practise nor do they want to learn more about it.
It is much concerned with the inclusion of stress, intonation and pauses. This can be referred to as reading feelings. They give good impression to the reader as well as to the audience. Reading without this component makes it very hard for the audience to depict the mood of the message being passed over through the text. (Cummins, 1989) It is therefore very necessary to have fluency in reading. This is developed gradually over time through practice. It first involves students reading in slow phase which is a bit laboured work.
When students become fluent readers, they bridge word recognition and comprehension. Fluency therefore acts as bridge between the two. This means that fluency on its own does not ensure comprehension. However, it enhances the comprehension. Comprehension is very hard to achieve without fluency. The moment the non-fluent readers stop to decode and figure out unknown words, it is most likely the meaning of the already read parts get disrupted and the process of learning become laborious. When students are acquitted with fluency, they attain a better position in their study work.
They pull together all their efforts and concentrate them on analyzing, interpreting and drawing of conclusions from the texts they are reading. Further more, fluency eliminates the concentrations on decoding the words thus the students keep on focusing their attention on what the text means. They are able to make the connections mange the ideas in the text and their background knowledge. Thus the fluent readers recognize the words and comprehend at the same time. This saves time of reading and interpretation giving student free time for leisure and other activities.
Considering the fact that reading volumes increase with the transition from lower classes to the upper higher levels of education, it is very crucial for the teachers to help the students at the very beginning of schooling to gain fluency in their reading. Teachers are thus a major determinant for child’s fluency reading. Teachers are the first people who can recognize the problems of reading disorders with the children. They therefore need to take immediate action in order to improve the reading fluency of the child. Teachers can therefore do several things.
This includes reading a text loudly while the child listens to him. He may also device other methods such as presenting loud tape messages to students. These two ways may help the child to listen to the words as they are pronounced, the prosody component is well heard and the other expressions are still well presented in this. The teacher must give much of the practice work to the student through having song and reciting poetic writing with the child. (Cummins, 1989) Reference: Cummins, J. (1989): Empowering minority students: California Association for Bilingual Education.