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 reading.
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 sub vocalize. I have noticed that when reading a good book with the stereo on I stop sub vocalising 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 sub vocalize 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 sub vocalization 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:
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.
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 sub vocalize. To be honest, I often find myself rereading certain things to try and fully understand them.
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 record.
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.
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