From a young age, children learn that reading is the foundation of their future education. Since so much of school involves learning about new ideas by reading about them, it’s no surprise that reading ability is a key indicator of a child’s future success in school.
Whether you’re still learning to read, struggling with reading or already reading at an advanced level, you can always become a better reader. Let’s take a look at a few strategies used by those who have learned to become speed readers.
If you’ve never heard of speed reading, it’s a group of reading methods used to increase how quickly you can read. Many people have created speed reading training programs that they sell in the form of videos, books, computer programs and training seminars.
Speed reading was very popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Many people wanted to learn to read faster to catch up on books they had always wanted to read.
After a decline in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, speed reading is once again becoming more popular. Today, though, many people want to learn to read faster just to be able to keep up with the information overload that has come about in the Internet age.
Reading faster doesn’t necessarily make you a better reader, especially if you read faster but understand less of what you read. Some speed reading strategies, though, can make you a faster reader who still understands what you’ve read.
One basic strategy used by speed readers is to choose a comfortable place to read. Make sure you read in a comfortable position with plenty of light.
Get rid of distractions that prevent you from focusing. Little things like these can make your reading experience much more enjoyable.
Another strategy used by speed readers is called "chunking." Chunking involves allowing your eyes to take in multiple words at a time — whole phrases or even short sentences — rather than just individual words.
Some speed readers also use skimming as a technique to read faster when comprehension is not critical. For example, speed readers who skim Internet sites might skip over text that isn’t interesting or relevant in order to understand the basic message being communicated.
Skimming can be helpful when conducting research, especially to help determine whether particular texts are helpful or not. If you skim an article and decide it’s helpful, you should then reread the article more carefully to fully understand it.
As you read, do you hear the words being spoken in your head as if someone inside your head is reading to you? This phenomenon is called "subvocalization," and it’s very common. Many speed readers learn to silence this “inside voice” to read faster.
So exactly how fast can speed readers read? In 1990, the Guinness Book of World Records listed Howard Stephen Berg as the Fastest Reader in the World based on his claims of reading upward of 80 pages or 25,000 words per minute. Of course, such speeds necessarily mean that only broad concepts and few details can be remembered.
The World Championship Speed Reading Competition insists on maintaining a reading comprehension level of at least 50 percent. Top contestants often read between 1,000 to 2,000 words per minute, while world champion Anne Jones read 4,700 words per minute with a 67 percent comprehension rate.
We hope that you want to become a better reader. Don’t get too caught up, though, in worrying about how fast you read. Part of the joy of reading is soaking up the author’s words and their meanings.
Many authors paint beautiful pictures with their words. If you read too fast, you might miss the subtle beauty that can be created with simple words on a printed page.