speed reading >
I've never thought about this before, so when I read the article I tried reading
all the posts here without subvocalising. It wasn't very hard,
and it did improve the speed about 2x (usually about 600 wpm, now 1200). The way
I did it is just breath deeply while reading and scan the lines with your eyes faster
than you could vocalize them. Could pretty much understand it as well as regular
The only weird thing is that after doing this for 15-20 mins or so, top of my
head started to feel weird, kind of like if you smoked pot, the same type of feeling.
This speed reading stuff might have more benefit than previously thought!
Anyway the best way I've found (in my 30 mins of experimentation) is to move
your eyes from side to side as you go through each line, but quicker than usual.
Works for me.
I have noticed that I read at the same speed I talk because I
I have noticed that when reading a good book with the stereo on I stop
when I get deep into the story. I read a lot faster. I forget to sub vocalize. So
I assume it is something I taught myself to do at an early age. If that is the case
it can be unlearned.
I can read a typical 120,000 word novel in two hours, and I
regularly, so I doubt that sub vocalising is the sole problem. More probably is chunking.
I notice I chunk a lot of things, reading a couple of words at a time rather than
a single word at a time. One thing that I do notice myself doing is painting "word
pictures" when reading expository lumps, rather than
sub vocalizing the words themselves.
For example, if the author is David Weber and he is describing in loving detail
the details of a new frigate class for his Honor Horn blower In Space series, I'm
seeing a mental picture of a frigate, rather than hearing the words. Dialog, on
the other hand, always gets "heard". The reading experience for me is much like
watching a movie, I have a mental image of what all these people look like and am
listening to them interact with each other and use the expository parts to build
an image of what things must look like.
In any event, try building mental pictures of what you're reading as you're reading
it. That should distract you from concentrating on the look and sound of individual
words. Once you get away from individual words, then your mind can start learning
how to clump words and build these pictures in near real time.
My reading speed has slowed significantly in the past few years (ever since I
stopped reading paperback books for the most part). The
issue had never even occurred to me before.
I tried reading the article by just looking at the words, and realized I could
indeed go much faster without pronouncing them in my head. I guess that's how skimming
works, but the trick is to slow down just enough to actually understand each word
while taking the group of words together as one thought.
I can read at around 1440 wpm, but I generally go with 100-200
pages/hour (555-1110wpm depending upon the text and time of day). I find that whenever
I read towards the top end of my reading speed, sometimes words occasionally slip
their line position (a word gets swapped with the word in the same visual position
on the line below it), which generally is not a problem, but sometimes it can drastically
alter the meaning of a paragraph. Other than the problems that and turning too many
(or forgetting to turn) the pages can cause, my level of comprehension is very high
(I don't know any way to tell it exactly).
These speeds can be reached without skimming, but I can't go my top speed for
too long, I occasionally get headaches from it. I end up reading and processing
multiple lines at a time, frequently an entire paragraph. I never really played
attention to it before, but it seems like when I do read towards my upper speed
limit, instead of reading horizontally across the page starting each line at the
beginning, I read diagonally, mostly horizontal, but down at the same time, reversing
direction of the horizontal scan when I reach the edge of the page.
As for sub vocalization, I occasionally do it when I'm reading
at only 100 p/h, with plays, or when what I'm reading has a beautiful verbal structure.
I can't think of any actual practicing that I've done to reach my reading speed.
All I know is that I've been reading at it since grade 6, but probably earlier.
My chief problem is sub vocalization. For those unfamiliar with
the term, sub vocalization occurs when readers pronounce internally
what they're reading in order to grasp the meaning. For example, as I read this
article, I hear the words in my head and from there I am able to understand what's
on my monitor. My vocal cords do not move, as I can talk and read at the same time,
and still hear the words internally.
So for about a year I've been attempting to significantly increase my
reading speed. It's been a very on and off process that hasn't received
my full attention because I read at a reasonable pace already. At the same time,
however, I am sure that if I find specific practice technique that works, I will
use it diligently and often.
The problem with subvocalization is that it greatly slows down
the reading process. A subvocalize has to wait to hear the words for comprehension
to kick in, and this unnecessarily delays reading speed. Eliminating subvocalization
is a key to faster reading. My goal is to wean myself off it and then gradually
increase my speed through practice.
I have tried almost everything to eliminate sub vocalization,
but I remain unsuccessful. Here is a somewhat comprehensive list of my failed techniques:
- Counting out loud.
- Counting internally (through sub vocalization).
- Listening to various types of music.
- Making a drawn out noise, both out loud and through subvocalization. (In the
latter case I hear both the noise and the words internally.)
I have also tried the often-suggested method of reading so fast that I can't
possibly subvocalize all the words, and this has also been unsuccessful. While I
am already capable of reading and understanding without subvocalising every single
word, after reading for half an hour to an hour every night faster than I was comfortable
with (highly reduced comprehension) I noticed no increase in how fast I could read
with normal comprehension. I don't expect a great difference to occur instantly,
but I calculated no difference at all, which caused me to conclude the method
I was using was unsuccessful.
Additionally, I consulted a number of books on the subject, and found no new exercises
Are there any people who have successfully increased their ability to understand
text without subvocalization? If so, what methods of practice did you use?
I am willing to devote time to this and am not looking for a "speed reading in two
days" solution. I read a lot for my own edification, I would love to have the option
of speeding up and slowing down whenever I want, without a loss in comprehension.
What I'm not interested in is being told that speed reading doesn't exist. I have
heard numerous conflicting studies on it, some of which claim that the eye cannot
possibly take in every word on a page faster than 900 words per minute.
Even if this is true, it doesn't bother me. Reading at 900 wpm would be a fabulous
skill to develop. However, I have a few friends who can read at between 1400 and
2000 wpm, and they do so with excellent comprehension (around 80%, which is way
better than average), so whether they are technically "skimming" or not does not
concern me. Also, I measured my own comprehension against theirs, to confirm for
myself that it was a reasonably accurate test. Being able to read that quickly is
a skill I would like to develop regardless of the technique.
Personally, I didn't even know thinking was possible in any form recognizable
to me without subvocalization. I don't have any thought capability that doesn't
involve it. Not that this hinders me in any way, I just can't picture an alternative
method. All conscious thoughts manifest themselves as an internal dialog.
I still manage about 750 wpm without skimming. Note that subvocalization is not
bound to the physical limitations of your voice box and thus can go as fast as your
brain can process it.
I am not sure that I can think much faster than I can
To be honest, I often find myself rereading certain things to try and fully understand
Have any tests been able to show that comprehension does not fall off after a
certain speed of reading has been achieved? I am not talking about repeating
something verbatim, but grasping the "deeper" meaning.
I've been working with a variety of speed reading techniques for a while too
and sub vocalizing was one of my major problems. I seemed to get over it by just
pushing a bit faster than I could form the words in my head.
This did not detract too much from my comprehension and, over a period, got me
out of the habit of sub vocalizing everything. Over time I've found that I can read
extremely quickly when reading "for enjoyment". Especially fantasy novels, which
I easily finish in one sitting.
I'm also a network engineer and I find that when reading white papers or other
such materiel that are work related my speed is less than a third of my "fun-reading"
speed. I perform best where the text enables me to build up clear images, or where
the plot means that the flow of language is easy to follow (or even predict). This
is sadly rarely the case with work related material.
If I try, I can read very quickly. But it does take effort. If I relax I slow
down quite a bit. I always "read" about three words at a time, but to go quickly
I have to keep my eyes moving ahead of my comprehension to have a pipeline of words
ready to understand.
It works best with fiction, and I'm reading fiction to relax, not to set a land
Speed reading is a useful skill, but should not be used all
the time. So called comprehension (as measured on most speed reading tests) simply
consists of being able to dump out the key facts from the text less than 5 minutes
after reading it.
Unfortunately, all I tend to get that way is a bag of unconnected facts that
I still need to spend time mapping into the rest of what I know if it is to be really
useful to me. That extra time (not coincidentally is about how much longer I would
have taken to read the text without 'speeding' through it.
So most of the value is to quickly find what I want to know in a manual or to
'buffer' what I'm reading because the text will be snatched away from me :-)
It is still worth learning, however, since once you relax again and start reading
normally, it will still be a little faster than before.
It takes conscious effort to improve reading rate fluency. One must become cognizant
of the habits that reduce the rate of reading and then take steps to eliminate those
habits. Lip reading, subvocalization, and regression are three such habits. Lip
reading, a common habit, involves moving one's lips while reading without making
any noise. Subvocalization occurs when one partially activates one's vocal cords.
Lack of concentration results in regression, or forgetting previously read information.
Be cautioned that reading quickly is not effective if one does not understand
or remember what one has read. Therefore, it is important to develop flexibility
in one's reading skills. Adjust reading rates according to the type of material
being read and the level of difficulty.
Another cautionary note is related to the practice of sub vocalization. While
it is true that this habit reduces reading rate, it may be a necessary strategy
for auditory learners to use while reading.
Reading at speeds greater than 1,000 words per minute requires a mental
shift in the way you read that can be quite hard to adjust to at first.
Simply by extending your peripheral vision and taking in more than one word at a
time, you can increase your reading speed enormously.
The brain is able to process information quickly. One testament to this is the
road signs on highway overpasses.
You don't read it word by word, you take a glance and immediately know what it
says. You read it in one big gulp.
If you have any suggesting about speed reading please write me a letter.
Speed reading question
Question: I'm currently interested in speed reading, a possibly useful
augmentation on my natural state, I'm not sure about it's effectiveness (or even
possible effectiveness). A bit curious about the experiences of others, and of possible
studies into the subject.
So, the question is, do you happen to have some information that might help me?
I appreciate any reply's to the subject.
Answer: try free speed