Teaching fluency

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Developing fluency in the target language, that is the ability to read, speak, write and listen to the language with ease for spontaneous communication, is the target of contemporary language teaching. But what can language teachers do to help learners develop fluency?


Paul Nation’s recent work has often been involved with helping learners to develop fluency in reading, writing and speaking. This involves extensive practice as well as an element of time pressure. The first article is from 2018, but based on a much older text from 1974. The second article by Tavakoli and Hunter suggests that teachers may not be working with fluency even when they think they are.

Take a look at the tips on reading research at the bottom of our landing page.

Quinn, E., Nation, I. S. P., & Millett, S. (2018). Asian and Pacific reading for EFL learners. Twenty passages written at the one thousand word-level. School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies. Victoria University of Wellington.

Tavakoli, P. & Hunter, A-M. (2018). Is fluency being ‘neglected’ in the classroom? Teacher understanding of fluency and related classroom practices. Language Teaching Research 22(3): 330—349.

Reading questions

You can write answers to these questions in the discussion forum at the bottom of this page

  1. The text by Quinn, Nation, and Millet describes a set of activities that can be used as daily fluency training in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Might this be worth doing with the learners you are familiar with? Could you use the twenty reading texts supplied, either directly or as inspiration for an activity of your own?
  2. Tavakoli and Hunter write that their findings “highlight a mismatch between what fluency research recommends and what teachers do in class”, and that teachers conflate speaking proficiency and fluency. Comment on this (and any other aspect of the article) from the perspective of your own experience as a language teacher and/or learner.


Take a look at Paul Nation’s lecture on Developing Reading Fluency (42 minutes) given for Compass Publishing in 2014.

Paul Nation: Developing Reading Fluency

Listen to Tore and Una in conversation about Teaching fluency

There was a live conversation about Teaching fluency on 7 June 2021.


Share your thoughts about the reading and your answers to the fourth reading question in the forum at the bottom of this page. Feel free to respond to others when you have posted your own text. Please try to build on others’ responses. The discussion is moderated, so your text will not appear immediately.

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4 Replies to “Teaching fluency”

  1. Mara Haslam

    I noticed Una’s comment in the video discussion about how to teach yourself to pay attention in a listening context to small but important differences in things like verb endings. Perhaps something like a structured input activity (a la VanPatten) could be designed that focuses on listening fluency specifically with a certain aspect of the material you want them to hear?


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