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Verbal fluency is an aspect of verbal ability and is the facility to use words quickly and accurately both when speaking and when writing.


Assessment is by the use of verbal fluency tests

Speech and Language Pathology[]

Fluencey is a speech and language pathology term that means the smoothness or flow with which sounds, syllables, words and phrases are joined together when speaking quickly. [1]. Fluency disorders is used as a collective term for cluttering and stuttering. Both disorders have breaks in the fluidity of speech, and both have the fluency breakdown of repetition of parts of speech. Fluency disorders are most often complex in nature and they tend to occur more often in boys than in girls[2].

Language fluency[]

Language fluency is proficiency in a language, most typically foreign language or another learned language. In this sense, "fluency" actually encompasses a number of related but separable skills:

  • Reading: the ability to easily read and understand texts written in the language;
  • Writing: the ability to formulate written texts in the language;
  • Comprehension: the ability to follow and understand speech in the language;
  • Speaking: the ability to speak in the language and be understood by its speakers.

To some extent, these skills can be separately acquired. Generally, the later in life a learner approaches the study of a foreign language, the harder it is to acquire auditory comprehension and fluent speaking skills. Reading and writing a foreign language are skills that can be acquired more easily after the primary language acquisition period of youth is over, however.

Reading fluency[]

Reading fluency is often confused with fluency with a language (see above). Reading fluency is the ability to read text accurately and quickly. Fluency bridges word decoding and comprehension. Comprehension is understanding what has been read. Fluency is a set of skills that allows readers to rapidly decode text while maintaining high comprehension (National Reading Panel, 2001).

A first benchmark for fluency is being able to "sight read" some words. The idea is that children will recognize at sight the most common words in the written form of their native language and that instant reading of these words will allow them to read and understand text more quickly.

As children learn to read, the speed at which they read becomes an important measure.

(National Reading Panel, 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. A complete copy of the NRP report can be read, downloaded, or ordered at no cost from the NRP website at

See also[]


  1. Bruce Harrell. Speech-language pathologist. URL accessed on 2007-03-28.
  2. Fluency Disorders. StatPedbitch. URL accessed on 2007-03-28.

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