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Learning Gym: Fluency Skills Level 5

Take charge of your education!

Fluency Skills: Level 5


What is Fluency?

Fluency with reading is like fluency with a language.  If someone is fluent in English, it means they can speak English clearly and quickly without having to stop and think about the words.  It means they can have a conversation that feels natural.  If you are a fluent reader, it means that you can read smoothly, quickly, and naturally. 

Why is it important?

Fluency is important for two main reasons.  First, fluency affects how well you understand.  If you can’t read a passage very quickly or very smoothly, it’s going to be much harder to understand.  Second, fluent reading helps you get things done more quickly.  If you can’t read very fluently, it will take you a long time to read things.  You can’t always just sit down and take lots of time when you read something, especially at work.  When you read fluently, you’ll be taking an appropriate amount of time to read and you’ll have a better chance at understanding.


How fluent you are as a reader depends on the level of the text you are trying to read.  You might read an easier level 5 text very fluently but struggle with harder texts at level 6.  The goal of this unit is to have you become fluent at reading higher and higher levels of text.  In this unit you’ll be able to earn certificates for levels 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Reading fluently does not mean reading perfectly.  Fluent readers still make some mistakes when they are reading just like how even people who grew up speaking English make mistakes sometimes when they are speaking.  Please listen to the following examples to get an idea of what counts as fluent reading.  With a coach or another member, listen to and discuss each example. 

Before you listen, click here to print a copy of the passage that learners will be reading in the examples.  It’s called “The Era of the Cowboy”

Click here to listen to a fluent reader.  The first example is a reader that we would say is fluent at this level.  This reader would get a 3 on the test.  

Click here to listen to a reader who still needs more practice at this level.  The second example is a reader that we would say is not quite fluent at this level. This reader would get a 2 on the test and needs to practice more at this level. 

Click here to listen to a reader who picked a reading that is too difficult.  The third example is a reader that we would say is not fluent at all at this level.  This reader would get a 1 on the test and probably needs to practice reading at a lower level. 

When you test yourself on this unit, you want to sound at least as good as the first example.  If you sound more like the second or third example, you’ll need to practice more or maybe even work on your fluency at a lower reading level.


What should I read?

For fluency practice, it doesn’t matter what you read so long as it is at the level you are practicing.  You can pick anything to read from the Leveled Reading List for the Intermediate Reading plan.

What do I focus on?

The biggest key for fluency in the basic workout plan is phrasing.  Instead of reading one word at a time, you should be grouping words together into phrases.  This will help you to read more smoothly and more quickly.

How do I practice?

When you are reading, you should be focusing on grouping words into phrases and reading smoothly and quickly.  The Intermediate Reading Fluency Strategy Units give you three ways to do this: Repeated Reading, Group Reading and Reading for Punctuation.  You should learn at least one of those before you start practicing for this unit.  To practice for this unit, simply find a text at the right level and use one of these strategies to read it. 

For fluency practice, you’ll always want to read a passage at least 3 times.  Sometimes you’ll need to read it 5 times or more before you feel comfortable and confident with it.  That’s fine.  Just remember to focus on your phrasing each time you reread.


You’ll test every month by reading one page from two different passages selected by a coach. 

Coaches’ Note: One passage will come from Newsela or Reading Skills for Today’s Adult.  The other one will come from a Rapid Reads novel.  You can find a Rapid Reads title at the appropriate reading level on this list.  Ask staff for guidance about picking a novel for a learner working on level 7 or level 8.

Please have the member start reading from the beginning of an article or chapter.  If there is a title, read it for the member and then listen while they read.  If the article or chapter starts in the middle of the page, have the member continue reading until they reach the paragraph end that is closest to the same spot in the middle of the next page.  It’s okay if the passage isn’t a full page, but it must be at least one full paragraph.  Scoring is a judgment call.  If you are unsure, choose the lower score.
The idea is to see how well you can do with a brand new reading, so you won’t get to practice them ahead of time.  The coach will give you a score from 1 to 3 on each passage.  If you get a 3 on both of them, you’ll earn the certificate for that level. 

Here are what the scores mean:

3              You read smoothly, quickly and accurately.  You are a fluent reader at this level.

2              You were able to read the passage, but you had problems with smoothness, quickness or accuracy.  You either stopped and started your reading several times, read too slowly, or had trouble with more than 1 or 2 words.  You need more practice at this level.

1              Reading this passage was a struggle.  You stopped and started a lot, read very slowly, or had trouble with a lot of words.  You may need to move down a level so that you can practice effectively.