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Reading Lesson Idea: Phrase Reading for Fluency


Phrase reading is a technique that builds fluency, aids comprehension, and improves oral reading. Phrase reading can also be used to teach grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary. This type of activity should be a regular part of the reading lesson for non-fluent readers.

Adapted from a 2003 COABE presentation by the Anchorage Literacy Project.

  • Choose a reading that is of interest and at the appropriate level.
  • Lined paper on which to write the phrases.
  • A ruler or some other type of pointer.
  • Prior to the tutoring session, choose 5 to 7 phrases from the session’s text:
    • Pick phrases (no longer than 6 words) that answer who, what, where, when, why, how questions.
    • Phrases chosen could also illustrate such teaching points as verb tense, punctuation, particular vocabulary, grammar point, etc.
  • Print the phrases neatly on a lined piece of paper, and use it with this 4-step process:
    • Read and underscore each phrase. Student repeats. Discuss any particular teaching point.
    • Read a randomly chosen phrase. Student locates phrase and reads it. If phrase is read correctly, tutor rereads it. Tutor’s silence cues student to self-correct and reread. Repeat process for all phrases.
    • For the next repetition, give the student a clue to find a particular phrase. For example, “Find the phrase that tells where.” Student locates and underscores phrase, then reads it. Tutor repeats phrase if correct.
    • Beginning with the last sentence, student reads and underscores each phrase. Tutor repeats phrase if correct.
  • After practicing these phrases, read and discuss the entire selection together.
  • Check Teaching Adults, pp. 51-54, for other activities to promote fluency.
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