What do you do when you have so much paperwork to read in a short time? I remember having just a day to go through a 50 page research work. I had enough time to skim through it, but skimming was not enough for me to read and understand the information I needed.
In this situation, I needed to have a better reading habit to cover so much. If you have never been pressed for reading time, you still need a good reading speed for other reasons. So, how can you improve your reading speed?
To improve your reading speed, start by identifying why you read slowly. Most readers have the habit of repeating each word in their heads, which slows down the reading process. If you fall into this category, then you should learn to stop subvocalizing words.
There are several ways that can help readers to get through words in a shorter time span. In this article, I shall explain all the methods you can use to improve your reading skills.
Why Is My Reading Speed So Slow?
Do you ever wonder why some individuals can finish a book in minutes, while others take a lifetime to finish a tiny paperback volume? The ability to read at a faster rate is something that people are born with; however, it is also something that people develop with time.
Reading experts have concluded that the manner in which we learn to read as children has a direct impact on our ability to read as adults. We unknowingly carry reading habits that are detrimental to our development in infancy into adulthood.
One reason some people have difficulty reading is because of subvocalization. Subvocalization is one of the primary strategies that toddlers used to learn to read, and it is also one of the most difficult. This is the process by which you read in your head the words you see.
Some people even say the words aloud to themselves in their heads. It is through this process, according to reading experts, that we can learn to better comprehend and assimilate information at a young age. But as you grow, you should drop this habit as it only slows reading.
Because certain words are so familiar to us, we don’t even bother to subvocalize them when we say them. This is because we are so familiar with the meanings of these terms that we can make the link on an instinctual level. Examples of these terms include well-known brand names, traffic signs, and other similar expressions and concepts.
Over the course of their lives, some people have formed some truly horrible reading habits. It’s even worse if a child learned to read from a slow reader as the teacher may pass this bad habit to the child.
Reading professionals also assert that reading a text word for word diminishes readers’ understanding of the subject they are reading. It is possible to get a better grasp of a text by reading words in groups of three or more.
Regressing is going back to reread words or sentences that you have read for the sake of habit rather than necessity. This explains a great deal about why certain people have difficulty with literacy.
Some might believe that reading the same sentence repeatedly makes you understand the text better. On the contrary, it makes it easier to forget that text, especially when they are longer books.
Reading With a Negative Mindset
Another element that contributes to a sluggish reading style is the development of a negative attitude toward reading. Some readers believe reading is not monotonous, and watching a movie or playing video games instead of reading will help you learn to read more quickly or efficiently.
If you have a negative mindset towards reading, you will be restless and anxious to complete the work. Sometimes, physical discomfort during the reading process is the root of a poor attitude toward reading. Staying in the wrong environment or the wrong position makes it difficult to comprehend the words you are reading.
Some readers find reading to be tiring and wearisome and sometimes causes them to fall asleep. For some, reading can be unpleasant, inconvenient, boring, and aggravating. Other readers might find the habit scary, especially if the text is lengthy.
Emotional issues may also play a part in developing a poor attitude toward reading. After experiencing recurrent failure, readers may develop a sense of learned helplessness and eventually lose interest and stop reading altogether.
When readers experience challenges in reading, they are likely to do three things. They begin by resisting and refusing to read, and then fleeing or even hiding books.
Lastly, they freeze when they confront a text. Words will look overwhelming for them to comprehend, causing them to read slowly.
Most people who are slow readers aren’t that way because they can’t read at a fast enough pace. Their unfavorable reading habits have taught them to be sluggish readers, and it becomes worse over the years.
Can Speed Reading Be Learned?
Reading is a difficult task that involves the synchronisation of several brain systems. The process begins with recognizing the word, followed by extracting its meaning and any other information associated with it. Then, you must relate the word to the rest of the sentence and the larger context, and finally decide where to direct your attention next.
If there is a mistake in the technique, you may have to go back and review it. All of this happens quickly. A proficient reader can read between 200 and 300 words per minute at a comfortable pace but it doesn’t work that way for all. This makes it impossible to learn reading speed.
How to Increase Your Reading Speed
For most people, it is hard to read words quickly while maintaining accuracy. Some people lose track of what they are reading when they do so at a fast pace. However, there are other techniques that could improve your reading speed.
Subvocalization, or reading one’s own inner monologue, is a common reading habit. As i mentioned earlier, It is the process of speaking the words in your head while reading.
Subvocalization is the most major hindrance to boosting your reading speed.
If you hear voices in your head while reading, don’t worry. You’re fine as long as you’re reading along with your own voice.
Teachers teach youngsters to read using this method by having them silently recite the words in their heads as they read. This is how the habit began, and it is how most people still read.
It has no detrimental effect on children unless they wish to read at a faster speed. So why does subvocalization cause adults to read slower? According to Forbes, the average adult reading speed is 300 words per minute, which is the same as your talking speed.
You must learn to overcome this impediment if you wish to boost your reading speed. To do so, you must first acknowledge that subvocalization is unnecessary. You don’t have to repeat every word in your head to understand what you’re reading. It might have been useful while you were younger, but at an older age, you can figure out what the words mean just by looking at them.
For instance, when you see a “STOP” sign, for example, do you mentally say the word “STOP”? Clearly not. You merely stare at it to understand it. When reading printed things such as books or documents, do so in the same simple manner.
If you’re having problems suppressing subvocalization, try listening to instrumental music or chewing gum. A distraction will prevent your brain from focusing on subvocalization, allowing you to comprehend words at first glance.
Do Not Regress
When reading, your eyes have the tendency to bounce back and forth on letters you have read previously. This is one element that is holding you back from enhancing your reading speed.
Regression is a behavior that is difficult to break because you might be doing it unknowingly. The most straightforward way to guide yourself along a book is with the help of your finger or a bookmark. Even if this sounds foolish, your fingers or a bookmark helps you focus on moving forward while reading.
Continue to move your finger over the page without pausing or returning to the previous position. Keep track of the words while your finger continues to move down the page’s content. When you’ve completed reading, you can think about what you’ve learned and try to recall words from the text.
Read Word Chunks
In order to read more quickly, you must practice reading many words at a time. Reading experts refer to this as fluency. While it is important to avoid subvocalization and regression, word-chunking is the most active tactic to employ when attempting to increase your reading speed.
A person can take in many words at once, even if we prefer to read each word at a time without missing an article. You can make word-chunking easy by utilizing your peripheral vision.
Put your focus on reading three words at a time for the foreseeable future. Continue in this fashion down the page. While you read, note how much faster you can get through the complete page of text.
Improve Your Vocabulary
When you’re reading and come across a word you’re unfamiliar with, what do you do?. Do you skip it? Or do you try to figure it out to understand its purpose?
Regardless of whatever option you take, you are significantly slowing your reading down. If you work on expanding your vocabulary, you will know more words which will enable you to read faster. If you can read faster, you can read more.
The adage “practice makes perfect” holds true when developing reading speed. Professionals, such as an artist or a musician, engage in frequent practice to perfect their craft. The same thing should apply to a reader.
You will improve your reading skills as you read more. The better your reading skills are, the faster you will read.
First, Go Through The Important Points
Before reading a book, take some time to go over all the book’s major points. Take a peek at the contents page. Read the captions beneath the diagrams.
Get a sense of the entire chapters and what they are about. Then, following the principles we’ve just covered, start reading the rest of the book. You’ll be able to remember more details and finish your book more quickly.
When Do You Speed Read?
All the techniques I’ve mentioned can help you read more quickly, but are they suited for your goals? It’s important to balance speed and comprehension when speed reading. The faster you read, the less information you absorb, especially for memorizing details.
So, even if you’re strapped for time, skimming through a complex legal or technical report is not the best option. Slow down if the material you’re reading is unfamiliar to you, or if you have to teach it to someone else. Quick reading is usually helpful when you only need to grasp the main points in the text.
Generally, if you want to remember more information, read slowly, at a rate of less than 100 words per minute. A typical learning rate is between 100 and 200 words per minute, whereas understanding is between 200 and 400 words per minute.
Reading at a rate of 400-700 words per minute is speed reading. But you understand fewer when you read over 500-600 words per minute.
How Long Does It Take to Increase Reading Speed?
The rate at which a person develops reading speed varies. For some people, practicing these methods helps them read faster in a few months or even weeks. For others, development could take a longer time.
Knowing your learning pace will help determine how fast you can increase your reading speed. However, one of the key methods to increase your speeds in a shorter time is reading frequently.
Attempt reading everything you come across. This would broaden your vocabulary, ease the reading process, and make you understand words at a faster rate.