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Learn to speed read


I want to learn the speed reading skill. So, I look for the resources, and keep practising. The following is the summary on what I learn about speed reading, especially based on the following video.

Average reading speed is 150-250 wpm (words per minute).

Most of the problem of reading is regression, that is go back to read again. To avoid this problem, if one sentence we don’t understand, we just continue. Only go back if the whole paragraph is not understandable. To make the reading continuously, one of the way is using a finger or any pointer to go through the words. There are several reasons. One of the reason is that our eyes always distracted by the thing it is moving. Another reason is help us to focus. Also, using finger, we will not go back to read again. This is best way used in speed drill (refer below).

Next, to reduce fixation problem, we need to learn the peripheral vision to read the words. (Comparing to foveal vision, foveal vision is the image fall to the fovea centralis). To learn the peripheral vision, when we read the text for each line, we no need to “look at” the first word. Our peripheral vision will help us to see the first word. This can be learn until read at the first 3rd word until the last 3rd word. This is to reduce the saccades (eye movement).

The auditory reassurance (aka subvocalisation) is the situation when we read the words, we read it in our mind auditorily. That is, hearing the voices in our mind when we do reading. To suppress the auditory reassurance, we can repeat such as ABCD or 1234 in our mind as subvocal. But the best way is learn the speed drill to reduce the subvocal including the 1234 or ABCD. This is because like me, I will affected by my new subvocal, “1234”, then my eyes movement will base on the rhythm of the subvocal.

Reading has three important areas: 1) speed, 2) comprehension, and 3) retention. Retention is how much we remember, different from comprehension. Therefore, it is impossible to train three of these at the same time, focus training one thing only. Firstly speed, then comprehension, then only retention. So, when we learn the speed, we our comprehension and retention will drop down extremely. Never mind, just keep practising. Good results will come forth when practise more and more.

In order to learn speed reading, firstly we can practice speed drill by finger. Go through faster and faster, without focusing on the comprehension. As we can see (not read) faster for the words, when we go a little slower, it is able to let us understand the words better, which will increase our comprehension.

To increase comprehension, scanning the headlines or titles will let us grasp some meaning of the text.

(Update: 2012-09-23)

I missed one of the point. Besides practising speed drill, another practice is eyes movement. That is to exercise our eye muscles. Keep moving our eyes left and right, or up and down, to exercise the muscle so that our eyes can move fast. It is useful to improve the saccades and fixation when reading.

About Allen Choong

A cognitive science student, a programmer, a philosopher, a Catholic.

10 responses »

  1. 所以,送女兒去“開發”右腦,希望有幫助,還有,
    我也要學學,還有,就是一邊讀,一邊想、理解,所以慢了,
    右腦的話,好像就是讀了,進了,不用想的。
    可以簡單一點,講你的approach 嗎?

    Reply
    • 不过我本人是推崇思考的,所以,开发右脑未必比较好。我是觉得subvocalisation还是有它的必要。那就是intrapersonal skill (见Gardner的multiple intelligence)。
      Subvocalisation有助于思考,分析,推理,逻辑。偏向左脑。
      那个右脑偏向视觉,所以有助于视觉记忆、创意。
      当然,最好就是平衡。像我那样,subvocalisation很强,所以练练这个速读应该会不错。
      哦,讲我的approach,简单来讲,就是加快速度看字。能看多少就看多少。看了也不一定会记得。主要就是练眼睛能够快速看字罢了。练习惯了之后,在看看如何。就用那些不重要的文章来锻炼,像新闻啦那类的。

      Reply
      • 也就是靜靜的讀啦?

      • 不是啦。静静地读的话,像我那样的人,会有subvocalisation。如果阿姐读东西是像阿妈当年教的那样,应该是没有subvocalisation吧。

      • 阿媽當年怎麼教?我都沒有印象叻?
        靜靜的讀,意思就是腦子裏讀啦,不是這樣的意思咩?

      • 阿妈当年有教我说,不要读出来,不然很慢,要在心里读,比较快。
        速读,嗯,如果要用华语讲的话,其实没有“读”,它只是看。看了就明白的境界,不需要知道读音,就这样看着“读”。因为subvocalisation会有关系到读音。
        除非阿姐的“静静的读”的意思就是这样,那就对了。

      • wait… 那,就是說,subvocalisation 好,還是不好?那,你爲什麼說媽媽教的方法的話,就不好?聽來蠻有智慧的啊?
        所以,會看華文的話,比較好。講看的境界,英文,比較難。。。現在,吶。。。現在,的話,英文也來個“拼音”,你知道不?那就是phonic, ie. a is not for apple, b is not for boy, a 是“啊啊啊”,b 是“波波波”,有點像“波潑墨佛”那樣!

      • 我哪里有讲阿妈教的不好?
        subvocalisation不知道到底好不好。不过,如果要速读,subvocalisation就不好,因为会变慢。如果要思考,就要subvocalisation。
        那个phonic,不知道是不是我以前大学时念的phonetic。就是关于发音的东西。然后我就用华文的bopomofo来解决。

      • 是咯,應該就是phonetic 吧。。。
        爲什麽你大學要讀這樣的東西?
        哦?那,我又是看一行沒有看一行咯。

      • 因为大学的时候有读linguistic。

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