When man first learn to read, he took note of every single letter. Instead of reading house, he read h_o_u_s_e; limited perceptual span becomes limited percepual span. As the man developed reading skills, he learn to unite the words and his reading speed increased.
The same process happens as we learn to read. If we read one word at a time, then this is considerably slower than taking in four or five words at once.
See 'developing a wider eye span' for ideas to improve how many words you take in at once. Reading one word at a time is an extremely slow and frustrating experience.
When we read we tend to absorb words. Some people absorb 1-2 words and then move on in this type of pattern. So that you start absorbing 4-6 words even whole lines at one point from a single glance. Using a pen as a pointer also keeps the reading flowing so that you don't regress and re-read any words.
This methods helps people read more quickly by increasing the amount of information they can pick up with their eyes at one time. People who use these methods focus on reading groups of words, 3 or 4 at a time, instead of stopping their eye on each word in the sentence. By using peripheral vision and picking up ‘chunks’ of information rather than each word individually, individuals can significantly increase their reading rate.
Use your eyes efficiently.Â A slow reader tends to fixate (focus) on every single word across the line.Â Yet the average eye span on the printed page is about 1 inch in diameter.Â Can you identify most of the words within the circle without moving your eyes off this 'x'?Â Two popular speed-reading techniques will help you increase your visual efficiency.
Use soft focus as you read. Don't peer tensely at the words. Relax your eye muscles and face muscles. Let your peripheral vision do more of the work. Look slightly above the line of print, and let your eyes "float" down the page. Try to read the lines, not each letter and word.
Use shortened margins. That is, don't fixate on the first or the last word on each line. Rather, fixate about a half inch in from each margin, letting your peripheral vision pick up the words to the side. Like the soft-focus technique, this one takes time and practice.
A note of caution: The best eye span and soft focus in the world will not, by themselves, make a good or a fast reader.Â Ninety-nine percent of all reading takes place in the brain, not in the eyes.Â As you concentrate on the ideas on a page rather than on each word, and as you increase your rate in easy materials, your brain will become more alert and active, and you can forget what your eyes are doing.Â
If you use a glass 'anti-glare' screen, draw 2 vertical lines in felt-tip, 5
cms apart, so that you have a strip 5 cms wide located over the middle of the text
you are reading. Now move your eyes in a 'Z' pattern down this central strip, at
a speed that is slightly faster than is normally comfortable.
Because your Mind is not reading each word, it is forced to 'fill in the gaps'. This engages much more of the brain, since it has to build associations and patterns in the written material. This in turn leads to greater comprehension and increased memory of what was read.
This technique takes advantage of the fact that much of written English is highly redundant; a lot of words can be skipped without any loss of meaning.
When your eyes move down a central strip of the text, you also engage much more of your peripheral vision. And that in turn brings the right hemisphere of the brain into the reading process. You make much more use of the right-brain's ability to synthesize and build relationships within the material.
So speed reading is not just about reading faster; it also allows you to access much more of the brain and thereby increases your comprehension and creativity.