Reading Rate and Phrasing

By Irene Fountas

What happens to reading rate when your students read with phrasing? You probably notice that the reading rate is good- not too fast, not too slow.  Phrased reading is important because it means the reader is pulling together the meaning units as he reads.

Think about this sentence.

As I looked out the window, I noticed a squirrel run up the tree. 

This sentence can be read with a slight pause at the comma, a slight pause after “squirrel” and a full stop at the period.  Alternatively the reader might pause slightly after “I noticed” and “a squirrel.”

The reader is putting together word groups.  When students read this way, they are reading meaningful word groups and don’t sound like they are reading a list of words.  Word by word reading becomes habituated when readers are allowed to read that way day after day.

You can focus on teaching for the reading of word groups by:

•  modeling

•  showing phrases with two fingers and asking the reader to read the words together


• echo reading

You can use shared reading or readers’ theatre for students to hear and practice reading that is smooth and phrased.  You can select a page with a lot of dialogue and assign parts quickly so students read dialogue and reflect the way people are talking in phrases.

If you value phrased reading, your students will too.  There is a strong correlation between fluent, phrased reading and good comprehension.  So let’s all be sure we teach our students to read fluently and insist on fluent reading in every text.

One thought on “Reading Rate and Phrasing

  1. Having students, especially struggling readers, practice phrased and fluent reading on familiar text, produces the best results. My understanding of the S in msv, centers around phrased and fluent reading. As difficult as it is to drop back in reading levels when your student is achieving high accuracy percentages, if the reading is slow and labored, comprehension will be affected. I have had good success with my students when I take the time to teach for phrasing and fluency with easier text. Check your running records. How often do your students reread to self correct? That is another indication that teaching for phrasing and fluency is indicated.


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