Repeated oral reading

Repeated oral reading is a strategy to develop effective comprehension through the development of fluent reading. Reading fluency develops in increments over time, alongside other elements of reading, and can be improved with the use of repeated reading strategies. The importance of fluent reading is that it frees the working memory from decoding, allowing the reader to focus on interpretation and comprehension of what is being read (Castles et al. 2018; Lane et al. 2008).

The National Institute of Child and Human Development (NICHD) (2000) found that repeated reading positively impacts reading fluency. Their analysis of two strategies: guided repeated oral reading practices and sustained silent reading found that oral reading practices were effective for developing reading fluency but found limited evidence for encouraging [silent] reading (NICHD 2000). Teaching practices that use repeated oral reading of a text to support and scaffold student’s fluency development and that use feedback focussed on improving speed, accuracy, expression, and comprehension were found to be beneficial (NICHD, 2000). Repeated oral reading practices involving multiple readings and supported guidance or feedback from peers, parents and carers or teachers improved reading fluency for students with average and below average reading abilities (NICHD 2000; Stevens et al. 2016). Repeated oral reading practices do not require specific resources beyond those already found in a classroom, making them easy to implement. These practices may be used as Tier 1, 2 or 3 strategies to support students learning to read.

Improving reading fluency for students with learning difficulties with repeated reading

Repeated reading is a simple strategy that can also be used as an intervention to support students with oral reading fluency challenges (Hudson et al. 2020; Lee and Yoon 2017; Stevens et al. 2017). As repeated reading involves listening to students read the same text repeatedly and providing supportive feedback, it is largely conducted one-to-one, making it a Tier 3 strategy on the response to Intervention model [link to Attachment 2 when published]. Lee and Yoon (2017) highlight that for repeated reading to have an ideal impact, the target passage should be read at least 4 times and should be pre-read or at least pre-heard by students to have the highest impact. 

Textual factors such as introducing a gradual level of text difficulty (for example, moving from practised passages to unpractised, generalised passages) facilitates performance in some repeated reading studies, although there is still some debate in the literature (Lee and Yoon 2017). 

Combining repeated reading with other practices can also improve its impact. These practices include: 

  • providing a strong model of fluent reading (a teacher, a fluent peer or an audio recording)
  • ensuring timely supportive feedback (as the student reads)
  • practising repeated reading with peers
  • using Readers’ theatre, the interpretative reading of texts in which readers theatrically use their voices to give life to the characters. This strategy can promote the development of various skills related to fluency, but chiefly, prosody (Quezada 2021)
  • focusing on features of reading prosody which include appropriate changes in pitch, stress or loudness, and duration and pausing which demonstrate understanding of the text being read and include interpretation of punctuation (Schwanenflugel et al. 2004)
  • selecting texts that are easier than the students’ instructional level to begin with and then gradually increasing the text difficulty may support students to transfer their reading fluency skills (Hudson et al. 2020; Lee and Yoon 2017).

For information about other reading teaching practices in the Literacy Teaching Toolkit which include elements of repeated reading see Modelled reading, Shared reading and Guided reading.  



Hudson A, Koh PW, Moore KA and Binks-Cantrell E (2020) ‘Fluency interventions for elementary students with reading difficulties: A synthesis of research from 2000–2019’, Education Sciences, 10(3), doi:10.3390/educsci10030052.

Lee J and Yoon SY (2017) ‘The effects of repeated reading on reading fluency for students with reading disabilities’, Journal of Learning Disabilities, 50(2):213–224, doi: 10.1177/0022219415605194.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2000) Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Reports of the subgroups. National Reading Panel, USA,

Quezada NF (2021) ‘Outcomes of a readers’ theatre program on oral reading prosody: An exploratory study in different environments’, International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 13(5):577–588, doi: 10.26822/iejee.2021.213.

Stevens EA, Walker MA and Vaughn S (2017) ‘The effects of reading fluency interventions on the reading fluency and reading comprehension performance of elementary students with learning disabilities: A synthesis of the research from 2001 to 2014’, Journal of Learning Disabilities, 50(5):576–590, doi: 10.1177/0022219416638028.

Schwanenflugel PJ, Hamilton AM, Wisenbaker JM, Kuhn MR and Stahl SA (2004) ‘Becoming a Fluent Reader: Reading Skill and Prosodic Features in the Oral Reading of Young Readers’, Journal of Educational Psychology,96(1):119-129, doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.96.1.119.