Speed reading is not magic

How to eliminate subvocalization in order to increase reading speed

When you read, are you aware of an inner voice that follows the words as your eyes move across the page or the computer screen? This inner voice is called 'subvocalization'. You probably experience it as a slight movement in the tongue or throat region. As long as you subvocalize, you limit your reading to the speed of normal speech, to about 300 w.p.m.

Someone said that repeating a single word in his mind while he read for 6 months did the trick for him. I couldn't help but wonder if there was a quicker way to achieve this, so the next time I read and found myself subvocalizing, I observed what I did to stop: I increased the rate at which my eyes moved across the page to the point where it was impossible to subvocalize. I switched into a reading mode whereby I noticed gulps of words at each eye resting point. These gulps involved pulling words from multiple lines. I noticed that I was still understanding what I was reading but in a different way.

I caught myself thinking: "But now I'm not really reading." In other words, part of my mind still believed that the definition of reading was to look at every word and sound it out in my mind. A better way to look at this issue is that you are wise to develop multiple reading strategies, some of which may include subvocalization and some that do not.

See->Understand seems much more efficient than See->Say->Understand.

A handy way to increase your reading rate is to adjust the focus of your eyes (or attention). Look at any nearby image and zoom in on a particular aspect, like the button on a shirt. Then adjust the focus of your eyes so you can see the entire shirt. That's the process you can use to increase your reading speed by increasing the number of words you take in at each eye stop.


Chunk four-words

Humans cannot mentally-speak four-word-at-the-same-time, just one-at-a-time. When we chunk � Power belongs to learners., as if it is a single-word � Powerbelongstolearners, we short-circuit subvocalizing which requires us to pronounce a single word, and then the next, and the next, linearly.

Chunking is the process of choosing to take in groups-of-words by panning across our peripheral-vision left, center-right. The more we scratch the old-record by taking in words simultaneously � 3-4 at-a-time, the more we distort the sounding-out of words � and subvocalization dies a slow-death.


Use pen and finger

The pen/finger thing is most definitely optional. In fact, there are some teachers who discourage this as an artificial way of pacing oneself. I can understand their dislike of the practice. If you were to actually follow a pen or finger moving smoothly across a page with your eyes, reading would be impossible because everything is a blur! The whole idea behind picking up your speed is to take in ever larger chunks per line at a time.

One-two-three, one-two-three - like that. (Or one-two-three-four. Whatever you're able to do, but the fewer pauses, the faster you go.) So really, when you see self-styled "speed-readers" doing this, they're just helping to pace themselves. The practice is completely dispensible.


Do you vocalize words in your mind as you read?

If not, how did you learn not to vocalize words in your mind as you read? I choose whether or not to vocalize in my head, if I really am paying attention than I read it out loud in my head. I hear stories as I read, but they're all in my own voice, like a narrator. Only twice have I heard a voice other than my own come through - that was a big wake-up call to the power of the piece.

How do you not vocalize? Unless you want to skim something real quick, and that's not really reading. If I'm reading a narrative, I guess I hear my own voice, but somewhere way at the back of my head. But when characters are talking, they always have different voices. I don't know how not to do that, either.

When you're learning to read, you try to tell you to cut out subvocalization to improve your reading speeds, but that's wrong. Subvocalization actually improves your reading speed as most people can speak faster than they can read. When you speed read you only subvocalize the necesary words and take the rest as given. I think I pretty much always hear the words I'm reading - in my own voice unless I'm reading something I've already heard read aloud by someone else.

It would be funny to actually meet the people on this forum, because reading the posts, you all have very distinct voices to me, which are constant over time, but get more defined as I get to know someone better. It's hard for me to hear accents in my head, though, or men's voices very clearly. Even people I know, trying to imagine their voice I can only hear the higher part of a man's voice, if you know what I mean.

But, if I'm reading something I've read very often, so that I know what it says already, then I think I just see the words and know what they say, instead of hearing them. At the end of the game, the king and the pawn return to the same box.. I appear to be nuts because when I read, my mind makes up voices to suit the characters and I do the narrating. Yes. lol And sometimes I feel my tongue moving in my mouth as I am reading. I suppose it is feeling the words, savouring them, enjoying every morsel.


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