Improve Your Reading Speed

by Michael Southon

The Internet is a new continent where the maps are constantly changing. What was a small stream becomes a roaring river. What was a desert becomes a lush green valley.

To keep up with the changing landscape of the Internet you must read. And the best place to read about new developments on the Internet is in Newsletters or Ezines.

But you may not be reading efficiently.

Did you know that most of us use only 4% to 10% of our mental abilities?

Speed reading is not just about reading faster; it’s about learning to use much more of the extraordinary powers of the Mind.

When you read, are you aware of an inner voice that follows the words as your eyes move across the page or the computer screen? This inner voice is called ‘subvocalization’. You probably experience it as a slight movement in the tongue or throat region. As long as you subvocalize, you limit your reading to the speed of normal speech, to about 300 w.p.m.

The Mind is capable of thinking much faster than that. So when you subvocalize, you’re literally holding back your mind. Try this exercise:

As you read, count to yourself, silently, from one to ten. Or, repeat the sound ‘Eee’, ‘Eee’, ‘Eee’. It will be impossible to do this at the same time as subvocalizing, so this is an excellent way of
breaking the habit of subvocalization.

As you do this exercise, you’ll become aware that you’re no longer processing the words in the tongue/throat region but in an area called ‘thought stream’ that you experience in the top of your head.

Thought stream moves much faster than subvocalization. And that’s why people who subvocalize often have comprehension problems.

There’s a mismatch between reading speed and thinking speed. The Mind is constantly racing ahead of the inner voice and so it gets bored. You experience this as an inability to hold your
attention on what you’re reading. You have to back-skip words, or read the same line twice.

As your reading speed catches up with your thinking speed, reading becomes much less tiring and your comprehension improves.

Once you’ve got a feeling for reading in ‘thought stream’, the next thing to do is speed up your eye movements. This will also help break the habit of sub-vocalization, since your eyes will be moving
faster than you can possibly subvocalize.

Your eyes move across the written page in a series of quick jumps. Between each jump there’s a stop lasting a fraction of second, called a ‘fixation’. The fixation is when the eye actually takes in the written word.

The untrained eye takes about a quarter of a second at each fixation, and takes in 2 or 3 words per fixation.

By speeding up you eye movements, you’ll learn to make fewer fixations per line and take in more words per fixation.

Try this exercise:

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 faster slightly faster than is comfortable.

Because your Mind is not reading each word, it is forced to ‘fill in the gaps’. This engages much more of the Mind, 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.

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