For reading comprehension and fluency Spreeder is an interesting web-based application. Paste any text into the reader and set the speed, font size, and begin reading. I do this in class using a classroom computer and projector, but Spreeder can be used by individuals on tablets and phones too.
According to some studies, fluent college readers read at 350 words per minute with good comprehension while average non native English speakers often read at 150 words per minute.(1) Because texts read in Spreeder support phrase reading and help students develop fluent reading, I’ve found it helpful to introduce my non-native English speaking students to this tool. They can use it to judge, control, and develop their reading speed.
In class, I put passages we had previously read in Spreeder, and ran them at different speeds so students could understand the target needed for college level reading. I asked them to find a level that was comfortable for them. Then students read unfamiliar texts at a comfortable speed and answered comprehension questions. I encouraged students to practice and set speed goals using their own texts and devices. We used Spreeder as a class about once a week and monitored changes in reading comprehension scores.
Sharon has been teaching ESOL for 26 years and EL Civics for 10. She currently teaches at Portland Community College, Southeast Campus in an 8-level intensive academic program where she is a technology early adopter. She holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts with TESOL Certificate from Portland State University and an MAEd in Adult Education from Oregon State University.