Flow and Reading

There are many ways to approach reading, and it all depends on the text itself and why we are reading it in the first place. The Hungarian American professor of psychology Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the originator of the concept of flow and the theory behind it. In Denmark, psychologist and PhD Frans Ørsted Andersen has further developed flow research.

What is flow?

Flow is a positive, concentrated mental state where all attention is focussed on one specific activity. This activity is so engaging that the sense of time and self is altered. It brings with it a sense of mastery and well-being and typically leads to intrinsic motivation.

What do flow and reading have to do with each other?

Flow has many shared characteristics with deep reading – a state characterised by focus, concentration, engagement, calmness and immersion. Flow in reading occurs in situations where the text captures us completely and we forget everything around us – we are completely absorbed in the universe of the text.

To reach a state of flow there needs to be a clear balance between competence and challenge. You need to be in the range where you are challenged just enough to be in flow. In the context of reading, this means that the text you are reading is appropriate for your level, that the topic interests you, and that the context and environment you are in invites you to engage in the reading activity.

What are the benefits of flow mode/deep reading?

Flow offers a number of benefits that particularly address some of the issues we see in relation to children and young people’s mental wellbeing. Research shows that flow:

  • Counteracts stress and anxiety
  • Benefits learning and development
  • Promotes innovation and creativity
  • Is physiologically healthy
  • Strengthens the self and increases mental resilience

What is defined as being in (reading) flow?

  • When the individual feels that they have successfully mastered the challenge (of reading) by concentrating deeply
  • When the sense of time and self-awareness changes as a result of reading
  • When reading “fills everything” – there is nothing else but the reading that grasps hold of your attention

Flow reading is beneficial for the student’s mental, physical and professional development. It makes sense then to work and focus on creating a framework that allows students to get into a flow state when reading.

Happy reading!

Hanssen, N. & Andersen, F. Ø. ‘FLOW in everyday life’ (2013). Danish Psychological Publishing House

How to improve reading fluency

The concept of fluent reading involves accurate decoding, speed, comprehension and prosody (expressive, personalised reading). The concept is also known as fluency. When we talk about fluency, like anything new that needs to be learnt, it requires practice. One obvious way to train fluency is through the repeated reading method.

American educational psychologist S. Jay Samuels was behind the development of the principle of repeated reading. His argument in favour of the method is based on the fact that students who struggle to develop automatic reading skills will benefit from reading the same text multiple times. Reading the same text multiple times was not a known method in reading instruction previously. On the contrary, students were instead presented with new texts each time they had to read.

Samuels pointed out that this contrast with how we usually approach learning – if you want to become good at something, you need to repeat the same exercise many times – so it makes sense to work with repeated reading in order to strengthen reading fluency.

Repeated reading as a method is especially important for students with reading difficulties. On the first read-through of a text, the struggling reader will rarely experience a sense mastery, whereas repeated reading provides will result in more fluent and satisfactory reading.

Gertrud Brandt, author of the book Fluent Reading in Praxis, highlights a number of methods for strengthening reading fluency in practice. Here are some of the methods highlighted.

Buddy reading

This method involves students being paired up and taking turns reading aloud to each other. The principle of the method is that one student reads aloud while the other follows along in the text. The listener supports and helps with decoding words, talking about difficult/unfamiliar words and correcting mistakes. Afterwards the partners swap roles. Research suggests that this particular method yields significantly good results in terms of reading fluency and comprehension. It can also lead to greater likelihood of self-correction of mistakes, more accurate decoding and greater confidence.

The three-in-one method

This method consists of three parts: 1) teacher modelling 2) direct teaching 3) student reading. Teacher modelling involves the teacher periodically interrupting themselves during their own reading and addressing the challenging elements in terms of pronunciation of different words and how different signs in the text should be interpreted in relation to the reading as a whole. Once the teacher has modelled the text, it’s a good idea to elaborate on some of the examples from the reading in the direct teaching. The students then practise reading the same piece of text and use the same strategies that the teacher used to achieve a more fluent reading and thus a better understanding of the text.

Brandt, G. (2019). Fluent reading in praxis.

Train skimming outside of FrontRead

One of the strategies that the FrontRead training is based on is skimming. That is, reading a text rapidly to get an overall understanding of its content.

Why is skimming so important? The ability to skim a text gives students a way to quickly review the content and judge the relevance of texts. In this way, skimming helps prepare students for a more thorough reading of the text later, where the awareness of what is waiting can deepen their understanding.

Skimming is an important strategy to acquire as in education and work we are confronted with an increasingly large number of texts. Thus, the ability to sort and assess the relevance can be crucial in many ways.

In the FrontRead program, the skimming speed is set based on our adaptive system. Skimming the text at a high speed prepares the student for answering the questions and primes them to push themselves to read faster.

Once a FrontRead course is complete, it’s important to know how to implement the new strategies and transfer them to general reading of fiction and non-fiction texts. Here are a few tips on how to do that.

How to train skimming outside of FrontRead

Use a speed card

The speed card, a piece of paper or cardboard that is placed over previously read text, is an ideal way to train skimming in analogue texts. The speed card helps the learner to keep up the pace and avoids skipping backwards.

Practice 3-3-3 minutes in analogue texts (also called minute reading)

Students find a text they want to practice with and set a 3-minute timer for each reading. With this technique, students first read for 3 minutes as fast as they can. Next, they skim the piece of text for 3 minutes. Finally, the finish by reading the piece of text normally for 3 minutes.

Make use of questions

Ask students to skim the text. After skimming, students are given four questions about the text before reading the text again. This way, you also work specifically on activating prior knowledge or preunderstanding, and the students are even better prepared to read the text again, as they now have a clear sense of what is important to focus on while reading.

Get started with reading training

In this reading tip, we’re sharing some of our top tips on how to get started with reading training, whether it’s your first time or you’ve done it before.

Talk to students about why you practise reading

Our first tip is to start a dialogue with the class about why reading practice is important. Motivation goes hand in hand with being able to see the meaning and purpose of things. Many students often fail to understand the purpose of learning what they are supposed to learn.

The starting point for a successful reading training course is to make students aware of why reading training is important. Reading is a basic skill that we use in all school subjects, in our working life and in our leisure time – in all areas of our live, to be honest. In other words, reading gives us access to life.

Book an introductory workshop with FrontRead

For getting the bests start to a FrontRead course, we recommend that you book an introductory workshop. During the workshop, you and your colleagues get all the important information, tips and tricks, as well as an introduction to the administration module. You can book a workshop here.

Make use of the Quick start guide

To get the best start, we recommend that you take a look at our Quick start guide. You can find the guide here. Of course, you are also welcome to call our support at +45 2683 1500 on weekdays between 8-16 (Central European Time).

Test your students’ reading speed before staring a course

In order to get started with the training, it is important to know the starting point for your students’ reading – in this context, their reading speed. If you have just received a new group of students, your knowledge of their individual abilities is naturally limited. That’s why we have developed a test for measuring reading speed that you can ask your students to take prior to beginning on the FrontRead course. This will provide you with a useful indication of their reading speed and comprehension.

Introduce your students to FrontRead

Having followed the previous steps, you are now ready to start training with your students.

Take a few minutes to remind your students that the training is not about being the fastest in the class; It’s about students strengthening their individual reading skills. It might be a good idea to remind them that there is little reason to compare themselves to each other. We’re all different – some things are easy for one person, hard for another and vice versa.

Happy reading!

A short introduction to digital reading didactics

When we use the word ‘reading,’ the physical book is often first thing we think about. There are many reasons for this, but we also need to realise that reading is now a days much more than just reading physical books. We read texts everywhere – not the least online. Reading digitally places other demands on students and thus also other demands on didactics.

This reading tip will look at various didactic aspects of digital reading.

The benefits of digital devices

One of the first points Henriette Romme Lund makes in her research project “Reading on digital devices” is that it is not the digital devices themselves that can in- or decrease the student’s learning, but rather how the device is used didactically.

One of the major benefits of digital devices is that the teacher is able to utilise the devices in relation to the academic teaching objectives. This requires an awareness of which strategies and processes one want to promote, and considerations of why, how and when to use analogue and digital devices.

Romme Lund makes some recommendations for how teachers can support students’ reading on digital devices. This includes:

Setting an example

Students can greatly benefit from observing and copying the teacher’s handling of reading on digital devices. It’s all about setting an example for students. Specifically, the teacher can show students how she would approach reading text on a digital learning portal. This type of reading is challenging as the texts we encounter on learning portals differ significantly from printed texts. For example, the teacher can point to the URL as an important place to find information about the sender of the text.

Furthermore, Romme Lund points out some of the most important differences between reading analogue and digitally. In analogue texts, students will encounter ordered and prioritised content that, by its very structure, co-creates a specific understanding or meaning. On the other hand, texts on digital devices provides many more opportunities/risks of being led away from the actual text. This happens, for example, via links, but also because often not all the text fit on the screen. In other words, digital text is much more dynamic and changeable.

Presenting digital reading

To deal with the challenges outlined above, Romme Lund recommends that the teacher organises the reading of the digital text in such a way that students must relate to:

  • The content of the text
  • The elements of the text
  • The medium itself

Romme Lund suggests that this should happen before, during and after reading (read more about Romme Lund’s recommendations here).

Dorte Carlsen and Jens Jørgen Hansen’s book Digital Reading Didactics emphasise the reading guide as a powerful didactic tool. This reading guide is defined based on some fixed basic principles:

  1. The purpose of reading must be clear to the students.
  2. The guide should help students to read effectively.
  3. The guide should help students become active readers who can understand, apply and reflect on the texts they read.
  4. The guide should make students aware of the challenges of digital reading.

In continuation of the above basic principles, the importance of students being familiar with the purpose and activities of the reading guide is emphasised. In addition, Carlsen and Hansen emphasise that the reading guide works with what Ivar Bråten calls the four most important reading comprehension strategies. The four strategies are:

  • Memory strategies
  • Organising strategies
  • Elaboration strategies
  • Self-monitoring strategies

The reading strategies are important because they improve the individual reader’s understanding of the text. According to Carlsen and Hansen, a good reader actively engages with the text and uses a wide range of reading comprehension strategies.

Have fun with digital reading didactics.

Carlsen, D., Hansen, J. J., et al (2015) Digital reading didactics. Akademisk Forlag.

Romme Lund, H. (2018) Reading on digital devices. National Knowledge Centre for Reading.

How to integrate reading principles during breaks

In connection with a FrontRead course, we often recommend taking a break from training in FrontRead, as this break can help students benefit from the course by working on integrating the reading principles.

In most courses, it makes sense to take a break after the second intermediate test. Typically, the break will last for 2 weeks. The break offers an opportunity to integrate the principles from the FrontRead training into the reading that the students do on a daily basis.

But what exactly are those principles?


During the training course, students have worked on utilising their preunderstanding by skimming and viewing questions and then reflecting on what awaits them in the text they are about to read. This principle is ideal for transferring to the general reading of texts in the classroom, so that students realise how leaning on their preunderstanding helps them understand the text and read it more effectively.

Reading speed aids

Maintaining reading speed doesn’t have to be limited to classes. By introducing the students to a reading aid or technique they can practise whenever they read. In analogue reading, this can be a speed map, a pencil, a finger or similar to help maintain reading speed. The analogue reading aid is placed over the lines and pushed downwards over the text, forcing the eyes to search forward in the text and avoiding skipping backwards in the text. On the screen, you can use the cursor as a reading aid. You can place it either on the left or right side of the margin.

The benefits of the reading principles

During the break from the training course, students will hopefully become more aware of how to implement the new, learnt reading strategies and principles in general reading in the classroom. This will make the transfer value of the training more noticeable and impactful at this point. After the two-week break, you are ready to continue working in the FrontRead program and train reading speed and text comprehension to an even higher level.

In our Quick start guide, you can find tips to getting you started with FrontRead.

Have fun integrating the principles!

How to train your working memory with FrontRead

With FrontRead, you can improve your reading comprehension by increasing your reading speed and learning new reading techniques. But did you know that you can also train and strengthen parts of your memory? Through the exercises in FrontRead, you train more than just being able to read faster and understand more of the text: You expand the range of your eyes so that you can fit more words in your field of vision, and you practice becoming better at fixating and recognising patterns. With the right reading technique, you can also improve your concentration and avoid mind wandering while reading.

How does this relate to your memory? To find the answer, let’s first look at the different types of memory.

The five types of memory

Our brain is a marvellous organ and modern research is shedding more and more light on the incredible secrets it holds. In particular, our understanding of human memory benefits greatly from science’s numerous discoveries. We used to think of memory as a three-part system consisting of 1. working memory, 2. short-term memory and 3. long-term memory. However most modern researchers operate with a five-part system for memory consisting of:

  • Short-term memory (working memory)
  • Episodic memory (explicit, conscious)
  • Long-term memory
  • Semantic memory (explicit, conscious)
  • Procedural memory (implicit, unconscious)

Today, short-term memory and working memory are considered part of the same system, as both are short-term, temporary memory systems with limited resources. It is this memory that we use when solving tasks, talking to others, remembering phone numbers and shopping lists, among other things. Roughly speaking, it is short-term memory that we use when we are doing something. Many of the things we store in this memory disappear shortly after use. For example, we remember phone numbers long enough to write them down on paper or on the phone and then, in many cases, they disappear again. On average, we can hold up to 7 items at a time, after which the capacity is exhausted for the vast majority.

New types have also been added, two of which are conscious and one unconscious. The two conscious memory types are episodic and semantic. In episodic memory, we store personal memories of events from our lives. For example, the memory of a first kiss. Semantic memory is where we store knowledge and facts about our world.

Procedural memory stores our learnt skills. It is this memory that remembers how we speak, read, walk, cycle and run, among other things. While many of the elements that this memory stores are basic and come naturally to us, others require maintenance. Speaking a foreign language or playing an instrument are skills that we lose over time if we don’t actively hold on to them or otherwise practice them regularly.

FrontRead and the exercises

With FrontRead, you train different aspects of reading to increase your reading comprehension. The programme helps you achieve this goal by, among other things, increasing your reading speed, expanding your eye span and training your fixation and pattern recognition.

Since our short-term memory, previously considered our working memory, operates with limited resources, it can be beneficial to utilise its capacity to the fullest.

Training with FrontRead gives you the tools to utilise these resources to read with maximum benefit. When you train your fixation and pattern recognition, you learn to recognise words without having to pause in the text. You’ll learn to fixate on the words quickly while getting better at recognising the words in the future. In this way, you practise reading at an increased speed. When you also train your eyes to accommodate more letters and words in your field of vision, you will be able to read up to 3 times faster than today.

Roughly speaking, this means that you learn to process more with the same resources. Reading faster also allows you to minimise the inner voice that we can experience while reading. This voice is common for many people and is known as silent vocalisation. It is often the one that dictates the pace. The inner voice can’t read faster than you can speak, so the speed is around 200-260 words per minute. However, your brain can handle up to 600 words every minute, and in some cases even more. Since the brain can handle almost 3 times as many words, it may not necessarily be stimulated while reading. This can often lead to mind wandering, where you start thinking about other things rather than focusing on reading.

When you read faster, you also automatically mute your inner voice, which stimulates your brain to increase concentration. Your brain perceives more than you may realise – even when you’re reading, if given the chance.

With the right reading techniques, you can also increase concentration and reading comprehension. FrontRead gives you the tools to read in a way that actively engages with the content of the text as you read. The programme helps you ask questions about the text, identify meaning keys and ways to gain prior knowledge of the content before reading. With this prior knowledge, you’ll have the energy to be curious about the text and identify the meaning keys, as you now have an idea of the content.

FrontRead and memory

FrontRead gives you the tools to increase your reading comprehension, and with the exercises you also train aspects of your memory. The exercises train your short-term memory by giving you the tools to increase your concentration and focus while reading. It also strengthens your semantic memory as you learn to understand more of the texts you have to deal with.

As with other tools, the greatest impact is realised if you keep practicing. The same goes for reading. When you practice FrontRead’s reading training even after the programme, it becomes part of your procedural memory. Over time, you will acquire the new reading habits that will one day become natural to you.

Read more about working memory below.


Tips for enhancing preunderstanding in the reading process

To create the best conditions for a good and rewarding reading experience, activating our preunderstanding is essential. At FrontRead, activating preunderstanding is one of the guiding principles of our reading training. You can activate students’ preunderstanding in a variety of ways. For example, by examining:

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Table of contents
  • Headings
  • Illustrations, captions and graphs
  • Summaries and questions related to the text
  • Words and concepts that are unfamiliar to students

Skimming the text helps with preunderstanding

Another highly effective reading strategy that help support students’ preunderstanding of non-fiction texts is skim reading the text. Skimming the text creates an overview of the text. This way, students are even better prepared for what they will encounter when reading. When their preunderstanding is activated, students have a completely different and improved starting point for reading the text and achieving increased reading comprehension.

You can read more about preunderstanding here.

Happy reading!

The importance of reading every day

This reading tip is based on an interview with reading counsellor Martin Holm. The interview was conducted by the National Knowledge Centre for Reading, a Danish governmental organisation. The focal point of the interview is the often-heard advice that students should be encouraged to read 20 minutes a day (and in many cases at home). Martin Holm offers some arguments as to why reading every day is so important.

Reading as a cultural competence

First of all, it is important to note that there is no scientific evidence for the recommended 20 minutes of daily reading. Instead, Martin Holm instead identifies three good reasons why time should be set aside for reading every day, without specifying the exact timeframe.

The first reason Martin Holm outlines is that reading is a crucial cultural competence. By this he means that reading is a constant during the day in both our professional and private life. Because so much of our everyday culture is tied to reading, you’re at a real disadvantage if you don’t get your reading skills in place during school. We use reading skills when we read books and newspapers, but also bus schedules, product declarations, TV subtitles, recipes and so on. We read almost all the time and in many different contexts – both formal and informal.

Because of this, reading is a skill that brings with it many advantages if were good at it. For most of us, if we want to get good at something, it requires practice – preferably every day.

Reading fiction is important too

While reading factual text provides us with crucial knowledge, reading fiction can also improve our lives, letting us learn more about ourselves and others. American philosopher Martha Nussbaum (2016) has researched how literature helps to strengthen individual empathy. This happens, among other things, in the confrontation with other characters in a text. This way, you learn to relate to other people’s thoughts and emotions. There is thus a great potential for moral and ethical education in daily reading, through the above-mentioned confrontations with fictional characters.

The last argument for reading that Martin Holm makes, is completely formal. Many schools and places of secondary education has compulsory reading tests. To pass these, students often have to read for 30 minutes or more at a time. This can place great stress on inexperienced readers. It’s often recommended that students reach at least 10 pages a day either in school or at home.

Getting motivated for reading every day

But what about those students who are hard to motivate? According to Martin Holm, it’s important to shift the focus away from the idea that reading at home every day is a duty and instead present it as a right that opens up a world of possibilities for the individual. For students who find reading heavy and difficult, Martin Holm recommends looking out into the world and, for example, seeking inspiration and motivation at public libraries, where there are many good initiatives aimed at them.

Martin Holm also recommends a slightly different approach. He recommends books that are also available as audiobooks, which create the opportunity to alternate between listening and reading in the traditional sense. This can be done by listening to the first chapter, reading the next chapter and continuing this alternation. This approach to reading can boost motivation and make work and reading training easier for students who need it.

To summarise, it can be said that to become good at something, it requires an incredible amount of practice. Therefore, reading every day is a necessity if you want to become a good reader and be able to do well in many different contexts in life. To boost your reading, you can use some of the methods mentioned above.

Happy reading!


Nussbaum, M. (1997). Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defence of Reform in Liberal Education. Harvard University Press.

Interview with reading counsellor Martin Holm:

How FrontRead can be tailored to students with reading difficulties

An important aspect of the FrontRead program is that all students can participate – regardless of whether they belong to the group that reads at, below or above age-appropriate level.

In this week’s reading tip, we focus on how it is possible to tailor the course to students with reading difficulties.

Different text packages for different readers

FrontRead is set up in such a way that it is possible to assign different text packages to students in the same class. This makes it easy for teachers to differentiate the training to suit the reading level of each student. The text packages are categorised based on LIX – a score for measuring difficulty. Students do not have access to information about which text package they have been assigned. This ensures that students who read below age-appropriate levels do not feel stigmatised or left behind. Read more about LIX here.

The open course fir student with reading difficulties

For students with reading difficulties the skimming part of the F4 assignments are too difficult to handle. To help them, a teacher might put the student on an ‘open course.’ This adds a skip button that lets the student skip the skimming part and move directly to the normal reading. It also lets the student skip other assignments that might be too difficult. We recommend that only students with severe needs are placed on an open course. You can do this by going to the administration module and select ‘edit’ next to the specific student.

Using AppWriter/IntoWords

To allow for even greater access and flexibility for students with reading difficulties it is possible to use read-aloud tools in FrontRead. In the case of AppWriter, this requires the student to work in Google Chrome. It is also possible to download the text package as a PDF so that the student can practise using the tools available for various text editors and viewers. The text packages can be downloaded by logging in to the administration module and clicking Text Browser. You can find much more information on how to integrate read-aloud tools in the Teacher’s Guide (also available in the administration module) or you can call our support on +45 2882 1500 to get the guidance you need.

Custom reading speed (words per minute)

While the options above can be mixed and matched, it is important to emphasise that it is possible for the student to manually adjust the reading speed in the reading training exercises (F4). Some students with reading challenges can, given the right text package and a sufficiently low reading speed, read the texts in the programme without other assists. The reading speed can be as low as 32 words per minute, which means that the text crawls at a very low speed across the screen.