Reading While Listening

Instructional Practice
Comprehension, Oral Reading Fluency
Target Student

Individuals who struggle with reading fluently.


Reading While Listening involves practicing reading while listening to a proficient reader (or an audio recording) of a fluent reading of the text and pointing at the words.

How To

In RWL, the student follows along silently as an accomplished reader reads a passage aloud. Then the student reads the passage aloud, receiving corrective feedback as needed. The teacher, parent, adult tutor, or peer tutor working with the student should be trained in advance to use the ‘listening while reading’ approach.

  1. Sit with the student in a quiet location without too many distractions. Position the book selected for the reading session so that both you and the student can easily follow the text (or get two copies of the book so that you each have your own copy.)
  2. Say to the student, “Now we are going to read together. Each time, I will read first, while you follow along silently in the book. Then you read the same part out loud.”
  3. Read aloud from the book for about 2 minutes while the student reads silently. If you are working with a younger or less-skilled reader, you may want to track your progress across the page with your index finger to help the student to keep up with you.
  4. Stop reading and say to the student, “Now it is your turn to read. If you come to a word that you do not know, I will help you with it.” Have the student read aloud. If the student commits a reading error or hesitates for longer than 3-5 seconds, tell the student the correct word and have the student continue reading.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have finished the selected passage or story.

Ask occasional comprehension questions. You can promote reading comprehension by pausing periodically to ask the student comprehension questions about the story (e.g., who, what, when, where, how) and to encourage the student to react to what you both have read (e.g., “Who is your favorite character so far? Why?”). Adjustments can be made to this approach. For example, a recording of a text can be utilized.


Hawkins, R. R., Marsicano, R., Schmitt, A. J., McCallum, E., & Musti-Rao, S. (2015). Comparing the efficiency of repeated reading and listening-while-reading to improve fluency and comprehension. Education & Treatment Of Children, 38(1), 49-70.

Chang, A. C. (2011). The effect of reading while listening to audiobooks: Listening fluency and vocabulary gain. Asian Journal Of English Language Teaching, 21, 43-64.

Chang, A. a. (2009). Gains to L2 listeners from reading while listening vs. listening only in comprehending short stories. System, 37(4), 652-663. doi:10.1016/j.system.2009.09.009

Winn, B. D., Skinner, C. H., & Oliver, R. (2006). The effects of listening while reading and repeated reading on the reading fluency of adult learners. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(3), 196-205. doi:10.1598/JAAL.50.3.4

Hale, A. D., Skinner, C. H., & Winn, B. D. (2005). An Investigation of listening and listening-while-reading accommodations on reading comprehension levels and rates in students with emotional disorders. Psychology In The Schools, 42(1), 39-51. doi:10.1002/pits.20027

Related Resources

Listening While Reading

Related Websites

Intervention Central

Texas Readers

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