I am not a big fan of speed reading.
Now, this might sound a little hypocritical since I have an online course entitled Reading for Speed and Comprehension, but let me explain.
There is nothing wrong with trying to increase your reading speed. The problem with most so-called speed reading programs is that you read quickly at the expense of comprehension. For all intents and purposes, you lose the whole reason for reading. The fact that your eyes can scan pages more quickly or that you can go through the mechanics of “reading” at a higher rate means very little if you are left without any retention.
In the course, I emphasize that your reading speed should only be increased in tandem with comprehension. It is important to recognize the value of reading in the first place. Also, there are various kinds of reading material and, consequently, different reading speeds based on the kind of material you are reading.
Many people get excited about speed reading because they imagine themselves reading loads of material, getting smarter than a Jeopardy champion, and impressing themselves and their friends. Oh, and they believe this will be quick and easy. It’s not their fault. Many programs seem to promise the sky and deliver far less. Usually, shortly after they try one of the courses or techniques, they become disenchanted and give up all together. That’s not what I want for my students. I want them to fall in love with reading and learning and have a life-long relationship with both of them. Along the way, they will become rapid readers with a lot of available information at their disposal.
As with all learning, it is important to begin where you are and look toward making improvements.
It seems too simple, and the magic promises of speed reading courses are far more enticing, but the reality is that you can make far more positive gains by taking the tried-and-true path to increased reading speed and comprehension.
First of all, make sure that you are setting aside time to read, particularly if you are reading texts that you are trying to learn. Having a plan helps you to stay consistent and focused. In other words, you aren’t simply slotting in reading whenever you have a moment. Instead, you have a committed period of time in which you can attend to the task.
Related to the last point, make sure you spend a sufficient amount of time reading in one sitting. This is especially important in terms of comprehension, but it will allow you the scope to increase your reading speed as well. When reading a textbook, it takes some time to absorb the style of writing, the technical terms, and the format. You might think that all of these extraneous bits don’t matter; however, they make a massive difference in your ability to retain information at any speed.
Reading fiction is not much different in this regard. I am sure that you have tried reading certain books or authors and just can’t get into the story. However, if you keep going and allow yourself to become engaged with the author’s flow, the reading becomes easier, and you slowly start to grasp more of the plot and characterization. In a way, you have to “learn” the author.
Allow yourself to become a bit of a bookworm. Don’t be afraid. It isn’t as bad as it sounds!
Try to control subvocalizing or “reading aloud.” Sometimes when people are reading silently, you can see their lips moving. While they aren’t technically reading aloud, they are still taking the extra time it would to do so.
If you aren’t moving your lips, hold your finger on your throat where your vocal cords are and see if you are subvocalizing when you are silently reading. If so, begin training yourself to stop doing this as it will slow you down.
Don’t get me wrong, I love reading aloud. You have often heard me say that reading your work aloud, for example, is a great idea. I think reading some texts aloud can also be helpful. There are times for reading aloud and times for silent reading.
Remember, I like to use all the tools in the toolbox.
Practise, practise, practise. If you want to get better at anything, you need to spend time and effort on it. The more time you spend, particularly with a plan and guided approach, the better you will become. The more you read, the more you will be able to read. If you want to become a stronger reader - read. If you want to become a better write – write. Well, you get the picture. Practise does not make perfect (that blog/video is coming up soon), but it does make improvement and can definitely help you reach your goal.
Interested in more tips on improving reading speed and comprehension? Shoot me an e-mail to receive a discount coupon for the online course at $9.99 US!
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