When first learning how to speed read, many people want to turn to speed reading courses that will teach them what they need to do in order to make use of this skill. Speed reading courses are somewhat useful, but they are no substitute for the real thing: practice. What I want to teach you in this article is everything that you’ll need to know in order to avoid paying the high fees of a speed reading course.
There are many bad reading habits that people pick up along their journey through school that hold them back. It is essential to break yourself of these habits if you ever plan on doing true speed reading, achieving a rate of 600-800 words per minute. While a speed reading course may teach some of these things, it is necessary to recognize these traits within oneself and to break oneself of them as quickly as possible.
The first tip in any speed reading course that should be learned is to stop doing is moving your mouth while reading along with the words on the page. Your mouth movements are limiting your brain’s processing speed. Think about it this way: the average rate of speech for an English-speaking American is around 140 words per minute, however, the brain’s word-processing power is close to 6,000 words per minute. It’s impossible for us to read that quickly, as our eyes can’t adjust to take in that much data, but consider that if you’re reading “out loud” or even just moving your mouth along with the words to pronounce them under your breath, you’re severely limiting the amount of words you can read, which will normally be exactly equal to the number of words spoken in a minute.
If you need to break yourself of this habit, then start chewing gum when you read in order to practice keeping your mouth busy while reading. Over time, you’ll notice that if you pay attention to this, you’ll stop. It certainly takes practice. Just that tip alone would have cost you $50-$100 in a speed reading course!
The second thing they’ll teach you in a speed reading course is that you need to adjust your eyes to read larger blocks of text. When you read word-by-word, you’re having to stop and refocus your eyes after every single word you read. By taking in “chunks” of text at a time, you’ll speed up because your eyes have to stop and refocus less often. While it seems like a silly thing, since this pause and refocus happens in milliseconds, over the course of a few pages of text, those millisecond stops turn into lost seconds, and over the course of a novel or book, those seconds turn into minutes or hours.
To “chunk” your text, you want to work on looking at groups of words, which typically include two or three words that make up a common grouping. So basically, instead of reading “the” and then “book”, you’d want to read “the book”. Instead of reading “field”, “of” and “corn”, one should read “field of corn” all as a single thought. By lengthening the segments being read, you’ll save time, and increase comprehension. This takes a lot of practice, but many software programs will pre-chunk text that is given, making it very easy to learn how to chunk text naturally when you’re reading.
With these tips, you now have everything you would have gotten from a speed reading course, and you have enough to go and practice on your own. Of course, the only way to do this is to actually read stuff, though this might not be as helpful at first. Knowing the skills is one thing, but having practice, and knowing how fast you should be reading is another. That is why I would highly recommend investing in a software program that will help you practice. This program will help you monitor your growth and performance, and is an excellent benchmark to chart your progress. Remember, it is possible to read as many as 600 or 800 words per minute, so don’t stop practicing at 300 words per minute as many unfortunately do without the help of something like this.