2.2.1 Principles of Practice and Forms of Reading Fluency Training
(*The following section is taken and translated from: Massler/Kutzelmann 2017: 86 ff.)
Principles of Practice
Research strongly suggests that effective reading training practice ought to follow these principles:
- Repeated Reading: Training by means of repeatedly reading a problematic text.
- Assisted Reading: A person who assists a learner with reading problems
- Model Reading: Providing the opportunity for learners to listen to and imitate a model reader.
According to the theory of automaticity (LaBerge/Samuels 1974), repeated reading aloud helps learners to decode words more quickly and accurately which allows an increased focus on text comprehension. This theory is supported by studies, whereby the methods for repeated reading aloud have been proven to be effective (NICHD 2000: 3-19).
In this approach, learners receive guidance and corrective feedback from the teacher and classmates. These factors have been shown to be essential for improving reading fluency (cf. NICHD 2000: 3-3).
Model reading has proven to be beneficial for developing reading skills (NICHD 2000: 3-3). Weak readers follow their more fluent reading classmates, teacher, or an audio recording of the text being read aloud. In this way learners have a model of fluent reading for the improvement of their own reading skills (cf. Chase/Rasinski 2009: 4; Hudson 2011: 187). During the teaching-learning process with both the Multilingual Readers' Theatre and GameLet, reading aloud models are used such as when the teacher or the digital device reads aloud, or while reading in tandem. In GameLet, learners can also use the digital recordings of all narrator and speaker roles that are stored in the learning platform. These can be used during the activities "Reading With a Digital Partner", or "Reading While Listening".
Learners that use audio files are more autonomous. They are able to practise their reading role on their own, which means they are less dependent on their teacher or classmates. With regards to foreign language passages, models are especially helpful for learning correct pronunciation. In this way, pronunciation errors can be avoided (cf. Ilg et al. 2017: 108 f). The reading forms described here commonly follow these three principles, however in this program the performance of a read aloud theatre piece is an additional advantage.
Table 1: Principles for training reading fluency
Forms of Reading Fluency Training
Many of the exercises to promote reading fluency, which are described below, are implemented in the GameLet learning environment in a media-based format.
Text Surfing: Develop the Courage to Read Out Loud
Often learners are too shy to read aloud. This exercise prepares them and takes away their fear of reading aloud. Someone starts reading aloud at any point in the text. Whoever finds the passage reads aloud. If most of the class is reading aloud, someone starts at a new text passage on a command." (Benedikt, 2018)
The Climbing the Mountain of Fluency game employs the Repeated Reading principles hence making the activity more interesting through physical activity. For this exercise, learners read their roles several times on their own while timing their reading pace. With each repetition, learners are instructed to read in a different body posture and with a different voice. The point of this exercise is to make it more entertaining for the learners.
Learners should read their roles several times while timing their reading pace with a stopwatch. Each time the learners read their role, they should follow the instructions for body posture and voice type. This activity is meant to make reading practice more fun for learners. (or: this activity is meant to reduce the possibility of boredom caused by repetitiveness. First, the learners are instructed to lay on the floor and whisper their reading role. Secondly, while still on the floor, they should sit up and read the text with a semi-loud voice. Thirdly, they should sit on their knees and read in a normal volume. Finally, they should stand up and read loudly. After all four rounds have been completed, learners write down the time it took them to move through all positions, after which they start the procedure all over again.
In round two, learners should alter their voices from a deep to a high pitch each time they change their physical positions.
In round three, learners are given the opportunity to determine their voice pitch and volume for each of the physical positions.
To complete the activity, learners should do at least three rounds, and compare the time it took to read their roles. Here learners should be able to recognise their own reading time improvement. This activity can be highly motivating because it acts as direct feedback of reading time and improvement. Moreover, the side-effect of reading speed is accuracy. Learners may revisit this activity at any time with the Gamelet. In this way, they can receive direct feedback on their reading improvement.
Hiking in Your Favourite Room
The aim of this activity is to foster learner reading fluency. The Hiking Game activity is designed to make repetitive reading practice more interesting to the learners. In this way, learners are given the opportunity to be creative by planning a hike through a favourite room. The advantage here is offsetting boredom with role reading practice.
After printing out their scene script and choosing a room, learners should collect and place objects that can serve as obstacles (e.g., mountains, rocks, rivers, animals, etc.) around the room. Learners then begin planning a detailed hiking route that includes the start and end of the hike, how to maneuver around, or over the obstacles. The hiking plan is then drawn by hand and named (e.g., The Goat Trail, etc). Naturally learners should be encouraged to create a safe route which avoids dangerously tight spaces, tripping over electric cables, or upturning tables, etc. While hiking, learners should read their roles repeatedly. The hike and reading should be completed at least 3 times.
Tandem reading involves a mutually supportive partnership, in which pupils enact and alternate both the roles of trainer and trainee.
In this task, students read aloud to each other. One student plays the trainer, who gives feedback, while the other student plays the trainee, who reads aloud his/her role. The students then trade positions so that in the end, both enact the roles of trainer and trainee.
Task procedure: student instructions (English)
In this activity, each of you will play trainer and trainee. To begin with, one of you will play the trainee who reads his/her text aloud. The other student will play the trainer who listens and corrects the reader, if need be. After a round of trainer and trainee role playing, the players will switch roles and start again.
- The trainee reads his/her turns aloud.
- The trainer listens carefully to the trainee and interrupts only when the trainee:
- hesitates too long before reading the next word
- leaves out words
- misreads words
- reads words with the wrong pronunciation
- Then the trainer reads the word/sentence correctly and the trainee repeats the whole sentence.
- You change roles: this time the new trainee practises his role.