What Is Speed Reading And Why Do We Need It?
More often than not, you are using speed-reading everyday countless times (subconsciously) and don’t even realize it. When you browse through myriads of emails, you are speed- reading. When you are going through the books, reports, proposals, periodicals and letters throughout your day, you are speed- reading.
If you look at it, speed- reading is probably the skill you use the most even at work, e.g. while you’re browsing through a database or researching online, however sadly it’s a skill we give little heed to and take for granted since the age of 12 .
You must think that, after all, if we can read and comprehend textbooks, there is no way you aren’t going to be a good reader, right? Wrong. You’d be surprised to learn how poor our skills can be when it comes to efficiently speed-reading in spite of how frequently we are exposed to it.
In order to make your morning newspaper ritual possible, you have to learn the ropes of speed-reading. Plus, given the frequency of its occurrence in our daily lives, it should be a skill we should learn and polish.
But what is speed-reading and how does one get better at it? Becoming a better reader means, being faster and more efficient at reading and still being able to comprehend what is written.
What Is Speed-Reading?
Speed-reading is any technique you apply to speed up your reading ability. So, when you are skimming through content online on social networks and through articles, you are basically speed-reading. It involves techniques like chunking and subvocalization.
Subvocalization (also known as auditory reassurance) is a tendency when you say words in your head out loud while you read them and this is why people read slowly and why you may have trouble increasing your reading speed.
If you can hear your own voice inside your head while you are reading, you are just like most of us. It is normal for your brain to repeat what you read because we have been conditioned to ‘read silently.’ This causes you to hover over one word for a long while without making any progress and not even realize it and this causes you to slow down when you subvocalize.
This is a psychological technique that we use to group together (connected items or words) so they can be stored or processed as a single concept. You can use this strategy to improve your short-term memory to reduce long strings of information which can be hard to memorize and break them down into shorter, more manageable chunks.
While skimming, you are actually glancing over the text and jumping to the most important parts. This may feel like speed-reading but it is more like you are just learning to skip over the less important parts to save your time. In the end, you will notice you cannot recall much after you are through with the reading.
So, you are just reading through the main ideas within the passage to get an overall feel of the content. Skimming refers to the process of reading only the main ideas within a passage to get an overall impression of the content.
MetaGuiding is an old technique where we use a guiding probe to read through the text, for instance using a finger, pointer or pen to guide your eyes to specific words. This enables you to guide your eyes to specific words and decreases distraction and focus on those words. This technique actually increases your reading speed.
RSVP is short for Rapid Serial Visual Presentation. RSVP is used in the most recent digital speed reading systems. There are only single words that flash on the screen so you can concentrate on a single word at once. When you get used to the program, you can speed up to how fast the display shows you the words.
Here is another program that allows you to increase your reading skills. The text is fed to the screen one word at a time at the optimal recognition point (ORP) so that your eye does not need to reposition itself to find the word in the stream. Spritz allows you to enhance your reading skills without you having to train for it.
History of Speed-Reading
Speed-reading wasn’t discovered until the late 1950s when a device, tachistoscope, used in warfare made psychologists realize the human brain has much more capacity than considered. The psychologists and educational specialists working on visual perception used this device to conclude that with training, the average human brain can identify minute images that are flashed on the screen for only 2 milliseconds. In the experiment, flashing images of airplanes were shown on the screen for 2 ms but even that improved the participant’s reading speed.
Now, that you have the gist of the subject, as you read further, you will learn to unlearn your poor reading habits and master the art of speed-reading!
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