Monday, March 12, 2012

The Science of Speed Reading in a Nutshell

While I've acquired the science behind speed reading, my reading speed has not reached competency due to needing more time to apply the techniques learned.  So in my journey, I'll give you what I learned and some resources that might prove helpful if you aspire to read faster.  So there are two types of readers...those that read in thought stream and those that read while sub vocalising. 

Sub vocalising is the act of either compulsively reading  aloud or reading silently to oneself while expressing perceived words in cohesion with movements of the tongue and larynx.  Thought stream refers to internal imagery only of what's being read...minus the sub vocal expression.  The mature reader needs not subvocalise, as it limits reading speeds to a general maximum of 300 w.p.m. give or take 20%.  Meanwhile a pure thought stream reader will be reading laps around the subvocaliser at speeds exceeding 1000 w.p.m.  Easy choice huh!

What type of reader are you?  To find out try reading an excerpt from your favorite book while counting silently to yourself.  It's not an exact measurement, but if your find this difficult chances are you're a subvocaliser, but don't be discouraged because this is definitely a reading pattern that can be broken with the right practice and the right techniques.

So...on to one of the most interesting things I learned in my journey, which I also think will be a great incentive for anyone to try their hand at improving their reading speed.  Did you know that we homo sapiens (latin for wise man) think at rates 500 w.p.m or more; however, the average adult reads at a mere 250 w.p.m. (true for elementary aged children as well).  With your mind running at twice the speed of your eyes, no wonder most people who attempt to read (the non-bookworms) find that they lapse into boredom, day-dream or most commonly find that they are feeling tired or sleepy.
No! The yawning is a signpost that you're bored, not tired.  The solution: learn to read at the rate that you think with maximum comprehension.  The benefit: you reach a magic threshold where you're simultaneously speeding up your thinking.  With this ability, you start tapping into new depths of your brain and you grow beyond utilizing 4% to 10% of your mental abilities...unlike most adults who, the late Jim Rohn said, read so little they have rickets of the mind.

Here are some resources for the few who might decide they want to learn more about awakening the giant within by increasing their reading speed:

The Speed Reading Course by Peter Shepherd & Gregory Unsworth-Mitchell
Triple Your Reading Speed by Wade Cutler
Speed Reading by Tony Buzan
How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler

Enjoy! Happy Speed Reading!

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