Using sound feedback to improve fluency

The term fluency refers to the ability to form a letter using a smooth movement of the tip of the marker (pencil or pen) on the writing surface.  The letter is formed without hesitations and the lines that form the letter strokes do not have sudden, sharp or unnecessary changes in direction. 

Dysfluent circles 

dysfluent circles.jpg

The smooth movement of the tip of the marker on the writing surface produces a sound that has an even tone with characteristic slowing down of the speed between strokes. 

The best way to get an impression of the sound made when writing a letter is to write several letters quite large using a large felt tipped marker on paper or chalk on a chalk board. Listen to the sound that is produced as you write the letters.

Also write a few letters pressing down hard on the writing surface. How does this change the sound? Can you feel the loss of fluency?

When demonstrating how to form a letter, it is useful to draw attention to the sound made by the marker. This provides the learner with immediate feedback about the smoothness of the movement used to write the letter. 

The loudness of the sound also provides the learner with immediate feedback regarding the pressure of the tip of the marker on the writing surface. This is particularly useful for learners who are pressing down very hard on the writing surface. They can usually adapt the pressure of the marker on the surface using sound feedback. This adaptation happens via an implicit adaptation of the movement, ie without explicitly trying to adapt the motor plan.

This approach to reducing the pressure of the marker on the writing surface tends to be much more effective than instructing the learner not to press so hard. An explicit instruction to change the pressure of the marker on the page requires an explicit adaptation of the motor plan which young learners find very difficult especially if they have motor learning difficulties (DCD).