Home Blog About

Learning To Speed Read

Why learn to speed read?

During the COVID lockdown, many people have sought to read as a form of personal development escapism or hobby. I was one of those people and quickly realised, my reading speed has significantly reduced from taking a simple test such as the one here. My aim was to try to improve my reading speed week by week by allotting 30mins a week to speed reading using an assisted tool. While simply reading will increase my reading speed, the benefits of using a speed reading tool are that I can track my reading speed by logging it periodically to find how much it will improve over time. After some initial research, I discovered the first pitfall I was falling into was subvocalization. Subvocalisation as the name implies is the act of saying words in your head while reading. This article suggests this is because when first learning to read, students were told to read out loud. Once fluent enough, the teacher probably told students to start saying words in their heads. I would say this is true for myself.

So how have I improved?

As mentioned in order to improve, I have aimed to spend 30mins a week speed reading using this tool. In my work, I have noticed an improvement in my comprehension and reading speed but this may just be due to the placebo effect. In addition to this, as a new years resolution, I have aimed to read 50 pages of a book a week, while not that ambitious, I am glad that I have continued to stick to my goal 9 weeks into 2021. Alongside this, I have been working to improve my typing speed. I will follow up on my progress in a later post.
The literature on subvocalisation states that it may be impossible to completely remove subvocalisation but there are many measures one can take to significantly reduce its effects. This article brings up a great example of this; "If you were reading and came across the year “1977”, you probably wouldn’t say in your head “Nineteen Seventy-Seven.” You would be more likely to understand the year by just seeing the number." Minimising subvocalisation is to increase the size of the mind's database of non-subvocalised words. One method to attain this that has worked well for me is distraction. Having another sensory input occurring at the same time distracts the mind away from subvocalising every word. The way I do this is music, listening to music. This is a method I have employed in the past to improve concentration ever since working on homework back at school. It is useful to use songs that you are familiar with that do not have emotional memories attached linked with them or lyrics. Over the years, I have compiled a Spotify playlistthat helps me focus.
My reading speed has increased ≈100 WPM (words per minute) in the 9 weeks since I started using the speed reading tool and I would encourage anyone who has noticed a slow down in their reading speed to employ this method.