While learning how to read from pre-school onwards, we have developed reading habits and since these are habits, often we tend to do this unconsciously when we are reading. These may be beneficial when we are just reading naturally and not trying to read faster than the average but if we are learning how to speed read then we need to avoid these common habits because they are factors which will slow down our pace. This is one of the first things which need to be done or I must say, removed because our reading pace becomes constant once we reach the age of 12 so we have had these habits for quite some time already.
Sub-vocalization may be the oldest known reading habit. This is done by many because of comprehension reasons. They just cannot concentrate and understand what they are reading without reading each word out loud to themselves. Pronouncing the words limits your reading speed. Observe yourself if you practice this and if you do, be conscious when you start doing it and stop yourself immediately. Practice reading silently using only your eyes and mind. Sub-vocalization is beneficial for developing verbal communication skills but not for speed reading improvement.
Don’t read the text again once you have read it already. Many do this, again for comprehension reasons but this slows down your reading pace. Just continue reading the next texts. Use a card to cover the finished and unfinished words if you like or go to a quiet place and practice reading there. This will help you improve your concentration and as you read more, you will enrich your vocabulary too. With the combination of better concentration and richer vocabulary, your comprehension will eventually follow. This may take some time and again practice is vital. So take heart.
Don’t give into distractions. This habit may be alright for other types of training or work you may be doing but not for speed reading because focus is a primary key for speed reading improvement. It’s best to set a specific period within your day when you will practice or train for speed reading. Once you have decided on your schedule. Turn off all things which can make you lose focus such as your mobile phone and the television. Eat before practicing so your tummy won’t distract you too.
Insufficient Eye Movement
Our eye span is about 1.5 inches which means it can see 4 to 5 words in an average page. But more often we tend to gaze at one word at a time. This goes hand in hand with the other old habit of sub-vocalization which is reading word by word. To fully use your eyes’ capacity, relax your gaze on the page, this way you get to see blocks of words instead of just one. Practice doing this and you’ll eventually be able to glide over lines of words till the end of the page.
We have been taught to read from left to right, from top to bottom. This is needed and explained in schools for faster comprehension but if you are vying to speed read then changing this habit to skimming is necessary. Skimming involves reading the headings, subheadings, bullet points, bold and italicized words on a page because these are often the important points of the reading material. The point to remember in skimming is to understand the main idea being relayed in the article and to forget about the fluff or other flowery words written to further explain the point or exaggerate it. As long as you get to understand the message of the article then you don’t need to read the other examples or explanations anymore on the page or article. Rereading may need to be done at this point but only on the critical parts which give a complete explanation already of the author’s message on that page so that you may disregard the other paragraphs or sentences explaining the same thing.
Break these old and poor habits to be more efficient in speed reading along with increasing your comprehension while reading at a faster rate.