One Speed Reading Trick That Does Work

By Daniel Scocco

Reading is one of the main ways we use to absorb information, and being able to read fast is something that most of us would like. If you could read 100% faster, for instance, you would read twice as many books every year, or the newspaper twice as fast every morning.

The problem is that most speed reading tricks and techniques never work as promised.

This week I came across a video explaining a trick that surprised me though. It takes some time to get used, but once you do I am sure you will feel a tangible increase in the speed that you read. Here is the video:


The basic idea is that you need to stop reading with your larynx (i.e., trying to pronounce each word as you go, even if just mentally) and start reading with your eyes (i.e., the information is processed by the brain immediately as you see it).

The trick to shift from one to the other is try pronounce something as you read, like “aeiou” or “123.” Sounds weird, but for me it worked.



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44 Responses to “One Speed Reading Trick That Does Work”

  • mark readal

    Another way to overcome subvocalization is to learn reading word phrases. It’s not only more effective than reading single words, but when taking four or five words at a glance there is simply not enough time to pronounce every single word. Tip: start with two or three words before leveling up to four and five.

  • Dave

    Thank you Kris. You’ve been very generous with your reply. I see exactly what you mean in each or your responses. I think that perhaps I have not made my point as clearly as you have.

    But thank you very much anyway. And thank you for trying ReadSpeeder and giving it your careful consideration.

    Dave

  • Kris Madden

    In constructing my responses, I have written a dialogue of sorts between Dave and myself to better organize my thoughts on Dave’s comments and software:

    Dave: “Wouldn’t you agree that when you read a difficult passage, you naturally go back and vocalize it to better understand the meaning?”

    Kris Madden: No, I don’t agree. More and more research points to the fact that re-reading hinders comprehension. Are you familiar with psychology professor, Mark A. McDaniel, research?

    The following is from The Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com/article/Close-the-Book-Recall-Write/31819):

    “Don’t Reread
    A central idea of Mr. McDaniel’s work, which appears in the April issue of Psychological Science and the January issue of Contemporary Educational Psychology, is that it is generally a mistake to read and reread a textbook passage. That strategy feels intuitively right to many students — but it’s much less effective than active recall, and it can give rise to a false sense of confidence.”
    Dave: “We’ve had spoken language way longer than printed language, and therefore are much better at communicating with the spoken word.”

    Kris Madden: To judge a system of communication based on the length of its history, reduces the importance of developing new ways of communicating with one another. It’s like saying, “We’ve ridden horses longer than we’ve driven cars, or flown airplanes, therefore it’s much better to travel by horse.” Or, “We’ve driven combustion engine cars for longer than hybrids, therefore combustion engine cars are better for travel.”

    Dave: “Compared to the spoken word, text is like watching a video in black and white, with low resolution, and poor sound.”

    Kris Madden: Comparing the quality of text versus speech, seems to remove the beauty of Helen Keller’s writing and suggests that the written word is an inferior form of communication. I think speech and text both have significant qualities to offer in means of communication, which is why the world still writes and talks, because we need both. I’ve stayed up late reading books that captivated my imagination and at the same time read books that put me to sleep. And I’ve listened to speeches that inspired me, and others that bored that produced less than a “black and white, with low resolution, and poor sound.”

    Dave: “But what makes ReadSpeeder work is that it actually finds the natural, meaningful phrases.”

    Kris Madden: Using “read speeder”, with the book “A Christmas Carol”, the program divides the line: “… and Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to.” into”

    “And Scrooge’s name”
    “Was good upon”
    “‘Change,”
    “for anything he chose”
    “to put his hand to.”

    To me, it seems like Dickens already divided the line into meaningful phrases using commas. The program seems to only subdivide the Dickens’ original phrasing into the way the computer thinks it should be divided. For a computer to rephrase Dickens, seems presumptuous in my mind.

    From Dave’s webpage: “Today, typing and email are so much faster than the old methods of hand-writing and postal-mail. Why should reading still be slow?”

    Kris Madden: I agree, “Why should reading still be slow?” I don’t think having a computer divide text into smaller “meaningful phrases” is the key to accelerating a person’s reading speed and comprehension. I think there are more internal factors to take into account than external in development of a person’s reading capabilities.

  • Dave

    Thanks for your reply Kris. I suppose you’re right that ReadSpeeder is primarily for beginners. I can see your point that it would be much less useful for those reading over 800 wpm.

    I am not familiar with that 1900 study, but wouldn’t you agree that when you read a difficult passage, you naturally go back and vocalize it to better understand the meaning? Most people read in the 200 wpm range, and they tend to vocalize everything for this same reason.

    I look at it this way. We’ve had spoken language way longer than printed language, and therefore are much better at communicating with the spoken word. The spoken word has lots of additional information in the form of pitch, volume, and rhythm, which is missing in text. Sounding out the text is an attempt to replace this information. Compared to the spoken word, text is like watching a video in black and white, with low resolution, and poor sound.

    Now, if you are referring to ‘chunking’ as simply groups of words, I would not see much benefit to ReadSpeeder other than just pushing you to read faster. But what makes ReadSpeeder work is that it actually finds the natural, meaningful phrases. This is what makes the reading easier to understand; each phrase is a separate idea, and can be instantly recognized without thinking of the separate words.

    I’m not trying to make the case or vocalization. Vocalization restricts your reading speed. But if the reader is presented a complete, meaningful phrase, they will not *need* to vocalize. The meaning of the phrase can be instantly grasped in the same way the meaning of a word can be understood without being consciously aware of the individual letters.

    Anyway, it’s interesting to hear from someone with an interest and knowledge in this topic. Your comments indicate to me that http://www.readspeeder.com needs to improve its descriptions and explanations. If you have any suggestions, they would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again for you comments.

    Dave

  • Kris Madden

    I have to say that I disagree with your line:

    “But vocalizing isn’t really just a habit. It actually does help you understand what you read.”

    But research continues to show that sub-vocalized reading does not increase comprehension. This is dating back to 1900 with:

    Secor, W. B. (1900). Visual Reading: A Study in Mental Imagery. The American Journal of Psychology, 11(2), 225-236.

    And the computer program “read speeder” is built to eliminate subvocalization through pushing the larynx to say things faster than it physically can, which then allows the eyes to begin taking in information. So, I don’t understand why you would make a case for subvocalization, when your product helps to eliminate it.

    Personally, I think the computer program is neat because it has a nice chunking feature for beginners, but once you’re reading above 800-1000 words, the feature becomes relatively useless.

  • Dave

    Vocalization is not a bad habit!

    It is a common habit to vocalize, or at least sub-vocalize while reading. This practice will prevent you from reading any faster than you can say the words. But vocalizing isn’t really just a habit. It actually does help you understand what you read. Sentences are usually made of multiple phrases. Each phrase is an idea, or a separate thought. When you hear a sentence spoken, there are sound clues that indicate these phrases. You may not be aware of it because it’s as subconscious as walking, but listen carefully to the previous sentence when it’s divided into phrases…

    When you hear — a sentence spoken, — there are sound clues — that indicate — these phrases.

    If you listen carefully to the spoken words, you will notice that the first word of each phrase is spoken in a lower pitch, like a lower musical note. Lowering our pitch indicates to the listener that this is the next thought being presented and this makes our spoken sentences easier for the listener to understand. This lower pitch tells the listener that a new part of the sentence is coming. But these audio clues are not available in written text, and so we have a tendency to sound out the words to listen for them ourselves.

    There is a free online application which will take any text and convert it into its natural phrases. It will then display these phrases one after the other at your control or automatically with an adjustable speed control. Go to http://www.ReadSpeeder.com and try it out.

    Although there is often more than one way to break a sentence into phrases, ReadSpeeder’s patent-pending process does a good job of quickly finding the natural, meaningful phrases. When the sentence is presented to you in this way, you no longer need to internally sound out the sentences. You will instantly grasp the meaning of each phrase at a glance, just like you grasp the meaning of words at a glance, without thinking of each letter. Faster understanding will lead to faster reading. This method is really the opposite of most attempts to read faster. The usual advice is to push your reading speed, and try to maintain comprehension, with the hope that, with practice, the comprehension will improve. With ReadSpeeder, you understand faster to begin with. Use ReadSpeeder and no longer will you be restricted to reading at the speed of speech. You will be reading at the speed of thought.

    If you have any questions, you can write me at dbutler@readspeeder.com

  • Kris Madden

    Thanks for posting my video. I’m glad everyone is finding it helpful. You can find more of my videos on my official website: krismadden.com.

    Thanks again.

    – Kris Madden

  • Kristjan-Olari Leping

    It does really work although it needs practice. For many people getting rid of sub-vocalization is the most difficult part of learning to speed read. Yet, if you cannot get rid of this habit then it will keep your reading speed down.

    I am a speed reading trainer and I use similar types of exercises in my speed reading courses and they really work. In addition I may include that it helps if you sometimes practice reading at deliberatelty high speeds, which does not allow you to sound words in your mind. So for practice, you have to try reading faster than you actually can read.

  • melisa

    Thanks very much for sharing this. Amazing and very interesting idea!

  • Aminul Islam Sajib

    Can’t watch the video; Internet connection is terribly slow. It would definitely help us, readers who are using low-configuration computer or using slow Internet connection, if you could write up whatever is shown and taught in the video above.

  • Joe Caterisano

    Wouldn’t you be more likely to skip over a word? One word may be very important, i.e. “The dog never stopped chasing the cat.” vs. “The dog chased the cat.”

  • Ramesh

    Thanks Daniel for sharing this video…..I love the technique…

  • mmSeason

    Well, i said i’d have a go and i have been doing it when i remember – amazed how easy it is (i didn’t expect it to be) and how little practice it takes, ie virtually none at all. :0)

    It roughly doubles the speed i read. All that remains now is to establish it as habit. Shouldn’t take long. Thanx so much for this tip!

    – mand

  • edwin joseph

    My brother is telling me about this speed read and it works a lot because it will double reading productivity 🙂

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