In continuation to our discussion in past two days, today we will discuss about how you can increase your reading rate.
The main barriers to efficient reading will always be short spans of recognition, long fixation time, regression, sub-vocalization, and inadequate vocabulary. To become an efficient reader, try to overcome these barriers.
You can do so by following the suggestions made here. You can then increase your reading efficiency still more by adjusting your reading rate to your reading objective and reading material.
If you are seriously interested in improving your reading rate, there are five basic steps to take:
1. Increase your span of recognition.
2. Decrease your fixation time.
3. Decrease the number of regressions.
4. Eliminate sub-vocalization.
5. Improve your vocabulary.
Let’s briefly examine each of these steps.
1. Span of Recognition: Your eyes move and then pause one or more times as they cross a line of written material. Reading occurs during the stops between the movements. The frequency of these stops, called “fixations,” is determined by the eye span – the span of recognition. If the span of recognition is increased, fewer fixations per line and an increase in reading rate will occur. With practice, the span of recognition can be increased. Practice reading the daily paper with a single fixation per line.
2. Fixation Time: If you are a slow reader, you not only make more fixations but take more time on each fixation than faster readers. Force yourself to read at an uncomfortable rate and you will soon reduce the fixation time. Time yourself using a stop watch, and try to read each succeeding page of a book at a faster rate.
3. Regression: When your eyes move backward to the left side of a page to fix on a word or phrase, you are regressing. Fast readers make fewer regressions than slow readers. Regression is not necessarily bad. Regression to analyze a confusing statement or to reexamine an unfamiliar work is certainly desirable to improve comprehension. It is important to note that when your mind begins to wander while reading, regression increases. Therefore try to keep your reading rate high and your mind interested in the material you are reading.
4. Sub-vocalization: Most of us learned to read aloud before we learned to read silently. Consequently, when we started to read silently, we tended to continue to say each word to ourselves. Sub-vocalization can limit our reading rate to as few as 250 to 300 words per minute – the rate many of us read aloud. A faster reader uses only his eyes and brain to read silently. His throat muscles do not vibrate. Continued practice at speeds greater than 400 words per minute will do much to break the sub-vocalizing habit. Also, chewing gum while reading silently may help to break this long-standing habit. In any case, don’t become discouraged if you can’t break the habit completely.
5. Vocabulary: If you have a poor vocabulary, your comprehension will be diminished and you will have a greater tendency to regress. The best way to increase your vocabulary is to read more extensively and thus find new meanings for old words. Also, new words will become more clear in context. Take time to find the new words you discover in the dictionary. As you learn the meanings and uses of these new words, as well as new meanings for old words, they will become an active part of your reading vocabulary – provided you continue to read extensively.
In the final analysis, remember that reading rate is a variable. Your reading rate will be higher when you read “light” rather than “heavy” material.
Reading improvement is a continuing process. It should not terminate upon graduation from high school or college. For leaders of our modern, complex organizations efficient reading is imperative.
Tomorrow we will discuss the Art of Reading!