How to Learn Speed Reading

How to Learn Speed Reading

Just like any other skill, learning to speed read involves a great deal of discomfort due to the human mind's strong tendency to resist change. An unprepared learner can easily give up. Although you might start out being excited about the anticipated benefits of speed reading, you might get frustrated along the way.

What you need to get started is to adopt a speed reader mindset. This requires rewiring your brain and learning new reading techniques that are radically different from the way you've been reading for many years. You have to embrace awkwardness and continue practicing until old inefficient habits are replaced with new good reading habits.

Here are some strategies to help accelerate your reading speed:

1. Use a Reading Pacer

Using your finger or your pen as a pointer is recommended to assist you in your transition to speed reading. One of the reasons why readers seem to find it hard to stay focused is that their eyes jump around the page. Using a pacer allows you to read more smoothly, thus avoiding unnecessary regressions, fixations and wandering.

Slide your pacer under the words while you concentrate on reading. Let it control the movements and speed of your eyes. Practice finding a point in the middle of a phrase or a word group using your pacer so that you perceive this entire word group in one fixation.

Apply this technique every time you read until you reach your desired speed. When you get used to the new speed, you may do away with the pacer. However, there's nothing stopping you if you want to use this tool forever.

2. Expand Your Eye Span

Taking in chunks of words in one glance reduces the number of eye fixations. To accomplish this, it pays to widen your peripheral vision - what you see on the side of your eyes when looking straight ahead. The wider your vision span is, the more you will be able to see the words that appear to the left and right as well as above and below your central area of focus.

The key to expanding your peripheral vision is exercising your eye muscles. Exercise helps your eyes gain strength and flexibility to sustain your reading speed. The more flexible your eye muscles are, the more you can stretch your reading vision.

Here's an exercise to try:

Focus your vision straight ahead while sitting or standing. Keeping your head still, try to discern the objects outside your primary focus. Begin by trying to recognize the objects to your right. Now try to discern the objects to your left. Continue switching from right to left and left to right while keeping your head still and facing straight ahead. After some practice, you should be able to discern more detail with less effort. Do the same exercise for your up and down peripheral vision.

Although a wider eye span can help you capture more words in a glance, you don't want to get too concerned over the technical aspects of the eyes. Increasing reading vision appears to get so much emphasis in many speed reading programs. The problem with paying so much attention to eye span is that it tends to take your focus away from the meaning of the text. Remember that speed reading is not so much about how many words you can see as how efficient you are in searching out meaning from the text.

3. Push yourself to read faster

The best way to practice reading quickly is when you read for pleasure. Every time you get the chance, pick a book you are actually interested to read. Force yourself to read faster than comfortable. It's easier to absorb the material if it's something you want to read. This way, you can focus on making a conscious effort to increase your pace until your desired speed becomes your new normal.