Factors that Influence Students’ Reading Fluency

Dear Readers, today I would like sharing about factors that influence students’ reading fluency, they are:
Proficiency in English
The first thing to consider is that English language proficiency will influence students’ ability to read fluently and, most importantly, to understand what they are reading. This is because, as Goodman (1996) tells us, proficient readers use their knowledge of three linguistic systems or cues to construct meaning when they read. These systems are: (1) the graphophonic system (ability to use letter-sound relationships to decode text); (2) the syntactic system (ability to predict what word is likely to come next in a sentence based on knowledge of word order); and (3) the semantic system (ability to derive meaning of words on the page). Students who are not yet proficient in English are not able to effectively use all of the linguistic systems that good readers use in order to construct meaning from text. Although English learners may learn to decode, they will still struggle with using the other two cueing systems because of their limited English language. Therefore, you will need to emphasize
language development in all reading activities. The more familiar English learners become with English syntax and especially vocabulary, the easier reading in English will become for them.
Background Knowledge
Another difference is the prior knowledge that English learners bring to the task of reading in English. English learners come to school with a great deal of knowledge about their culture and communities. However, this may not be relevant to the background knowledge required to understand the stories and textbooks they read in school. If a story centers around an American celebration, such as Thanksgiving with traditional American dishes, a teacher will need to develop some background
knowledge with English learners who are recent arrivals from other countries in order to make the story comprehensible to them.
First Language Literacy Level
A third consideration is whether students have some literacy skills in their native language. Knowing how to read in the first language will facilitate learning to read in English (Cummins, 1994). Even if the child is literate in a language that uses a very different writing system than English, such as Hebrew or Arabic, primary language literacy will benefit the development of literacy in English. For one thing, these students already have the crucial understanding that the printed symbols on the page represent speech and carry a message. If the native language writing system is more similar to English, such as Vietnamese or Spanish, then the child already understands directionality concepts about print, such as left to right and top to bottom. In addition, once students have learned comprehension skills, such as identifying a main idea, drawing inferences, or making predictions in their primary language, these skills will transfer to reading in English (Thonis, 1994). Therefore, promoting literacy in the native language, whether at home or at school, is very beneficial to English learners.

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