An ELT Glossary : Fluency activities
Fluency activities are conversation tasks used in the classroom where the focus is not on practising a specific language area, but on allowing the learners to communicate their ideas with all and any of the language at their disposal.
For example : a lead-in discussion before a reading activity. The students are asked to tell each other everything they already know about the topic of the reading text. This activity has aims related to the following reading (activation of schemata, lexis etc) but also serves as a chance for the students to develop fluency. It's not a speaking activity built into a language systems lesson, where a primary aim will be the accurate, appropriate use of the target language item, but allows the students to practise speaking "naturally", focusing primarily on expresssing what they want to say comprehensibly and effectively.
In the Audiolingual Method fluency activities were seen as something to be avoided. Fluency work would inevitably lead to error/mistakes which would reinforce incorrect habits and therefore be detrimental to learning. The Communicative Approach, however, considers it necessary. Learners need practice in communicating with all the language at their disposal inside the classroom if they are to become proficient users outside. It serves as a "rehearsal for "the real thing".