An Introduction to Speed Reading
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Now I don't have time to deal with your beliefs but you can make some dramatic improvements in your reading speed and reading effectiveness simply by improving your basic technique ie the way you actually use your eyes and your brain to read words.
Many people when asked to explain how they think the eye moves across a page of words will describe smooth jumps from one word to the next and to the next, starting at the left hand edge of a line of words travelling to the right hand extremity of that line and then starting again at the first word of the next line and so on.
In actual fact what happens is that the eye will move from one word to the next, then the next and then it may wander off to some other line on the page before it returns to round about where it was. Then after a couple more words on that line it might retrace its steps a few times over a word or a sequence of words it has already covered before wandering off on another expedition to explore any line other than the one it is currently on. If it decides to come back it may retrace its steps once more before finishing the line and starting the next, perhaps after visiting yet another line or sequence of words elsewhere. From that description alone you can understand that the movement of the eye across a page as we read is quite chaotic to say the least.
The only real development in our reading ability after that was that we started reading longer and more complicated words and more of them. So the first idea I am going to suggest you try is to read by taking in groups of words instead of single words on their own. This of course will take a little bit of practice but just think about it, if you suddenly started reading 2 words at a time instead of one, automatically you have doubled your reading speed. Now what happens if you take 3 or 4 words in at a time ?. Many of you at the moment may be raising the issue of comprehension. It is a common and popular belief that the faster you read the less you comprehend. Unfortunately, time prevents me from delving too deep into the argument but research is now showing that the brain takes information in more easily if it is grouped in meaningful chunks. Reading more than one word at a time is one way of doing this.
Now the next idea I want you to consider is related to the time it takes you to read each group of words. The only way the eye can see something clearly is by fixing its gaze on the subject in question either because the object is still or the eye is able to lock in and track the object as it moves giving zero relative motion. The only thing that tends to move during the reading process is the eye across the page and for it to take in words or groups of words it must be fixed on them. Research carried out during the training of First World War Pilots showed that the eye can recognise images (such as a word) in one five hundredth of a second. Taken to its logical conclusion this gives a reading speed of 60 sec x 500 giving 30,000 words per minute! Now I am not suggesting that you read at that rate but I am sure you can reduce the length of time that you fixate on a group of words. Of course it takes a little practice but this is another way that your reading speed can increase. In fact, just by combining these first two ideas, not only will your reading speed increase but your eyes will be doing less work (ie fewer and shorter fixates because you are taking more words in at once and spending less time on each grouping).
So to summarise. If you want to increase your reading speed the three things that you can do are:-
As you fixate on each group by minimising the time you spend on each fixation.
To overcome the problems of back skipping and regression use a guide such as your finger or perhaps a pen or pencil.
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