We all know the feeling; the long winded emails from family or the giant text books with thousands of pages that make you wish you could read a little faster. There are several techniques you can utilize to do just that. Speed reading is the ability to skim through vast reams of material two to ten times faster than you would normally read. This is an excellent skill to have when you want to get an overview of material or the general gist of a text. If you have previously read the material, speed reading is a great way to refresh your memory. There are several steps you can take to improve your reading speed.
Step 1: Time yourself
You can set a time limit and then count the number of words in a passage to find your reading speed. If you read online documents, it’s easier to determine reading speed. Try to read at your normal reading speed during your reading test. Alternatively, you can take an online reading speed test which offers greater accuracy. As you try various techniques, keep on timing yourself to see which ones work best for you.
Step 2: Stop Subvocalizing
Subvocalizing is the habit of reading to yourself. Whether you are forming the words with your mouth or just forming them in your head, this will significantly slow progress. Reading is a visual exercise and your brain immediately recognizes words long before they have formed in your head. For example, read the following sentence:
If you can raed tihs sentnece, you msut be vrey clever.
You mind can still recognise the words, based on the first and last letters, despite the fact that they are spelled incorrectly. This means that there is no need to form the word in your head because you have already identified them visually. You can stop subvocalizing by being aware of this habit and, if it persists, hum to prevent yourself from forming the words in your mind or put a finger to your lips to prevent yourself from speaking them. Reading aloud has its own virtues and is especially good when practicing pronunciation or memorizing important facts, but it has no place in speed reading.
Step 3: Let your fingers do the walking
Run a finger or a hand along the page while you read. This will pull your eye down and help to speed up your reading. As you move your finger along the sentence or down the page, your eyes will follow the movement and this will force your mind to use visual recognition to decipher words.
Catch the next blog post for more ways to improve your speed reading in the second of our three part series.