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Neurological Impress Method (NIM)

The Neurological Impress Method is a form of paired reading in which a student and tutor read the same text almost simultaneously. Sitting side-by-side, the tutor reads a text slightly faster and louder than the student while both follow the text with their fingers. Reading along with a more fluent reader is thought of as "an impress, an etching in of word memories on the natural process" (Heckelman, 1969). In addition, positive reinforcement from the tutor may help build students' self-confidence and enjoyment of reading.

How the neurological impress method can foster fluency in struggling readers

Research on the Neurological Impress Method found that students significantly improved their fluency after a relatively short amount of instruction. For example, a group of 24 struggling adolescent readers made an average gain of almost two grade levels after about 7.5 hours of instruction over an eight-week period (Heckelman, 1969).

In a more recent study (Flood et al, 2005), twenty students in grades 3-6 received NIM instruction for 10 minutes per day, four days a week. These sessions included oral reading plus an added comprehension component. After five weeks, the students' average oral reading rates increased from 97 to 112 words per minute, and their comprehension scores showed statistically significant gains.

Steps for NIM (adapted from Flood et al, 2005)

  1. Select an instructional-level text (or better yet, ask the student to select the text).
  2. Sit next to the student so that you can speak into the student's ear.
  3. Move your finger under each word as you read it. The student rests his or her finger on top of yours.
  4. As you read the text aloud together, set the pace by reading slightly faster than the student. Model fluency and expression, chunking words in meaningful phrases and pausing for punctuation.
  5. Gradually release the "lead" to the student as the he or she becomes more comfortable with the text.
  6. NIM PLUS: After reading, ask the student to retell the text to you and discuss a few comprehension questions (Flood et al, 2005).

Teacher Tips

How do you use the neurological impress method in your class? Submit your ideas here!

Resources and Links


Using the neurological Impress Method -- Describes steps and process

Helping Your Child At Home With The Neurological Impress Method of Reading -- Describes the NIM process and tips for reading at home.

How to Use the Neurological Impress Method to Accelerate Reading Fluency with "Books That Sing and Rhyme"


Reading Acceleration Program: A Schoolwide Intervention by Victoria S. Feazell. Reading Teacher, Vol. 58, Iss. 1, pp. 66-72. www.reading.org

This article shares the research-based instructional techniques used in a reading program (Reading Acceleration Program, or RAP) in a school in which the majority of the students were English-language learners and came from low-income families. In this model, special education and general education teachers collaborated in order to intervene on behalf of struggling readers, both identified special education students and low-performing general education students. Aspects of the traditional neurological impress method were employed in the fluency training. Phonemic awareness, music, rhythm, and fun were other major components of RAP. Participating students showed gains in reading skills as demonstrated by scaled score results on California Achievement Tests and on school-based assessments.


Flood, J., Lapp, D., & Fisher, D. (2005). Neurological impress methods plus. Reading Psychology, 26, 147-150.

Rasinski, T. V. (2003). The fluent reader: Oral reading strategies for building word recognition, fluency, and comprehension. New York: Scholastic. Revised April 17, 2006