How to Read Faster by Eliminating Subvocalization

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Welcome to your first speed reading power tip. This post is one in a whole series that we’re going to be releasing for free over the next few weeks. What I’m going to be doing in these posts is teaching you some of the techniques and methods we’ve discovered  that will help you read up to three times faster… and comprehend more.

If you can learn to break old reading habits and adopt new techniques, you can learn how to read faster.  It really is that easy.

Let’s face it.  The reading habits you use now have been with you a long, long time.  Most were developed around the same time you first learned to read.  Do you remember when that was?  First, second, maybe third grade?

And not only that, the first time you learned how to read was likely the only time in your life you learned how to read.  Since then your vocabulary has increased and you’ve been able to read more difficult material.  But how you read likely hasn’t changed.

Here’s a perfect example of what I mean.

If I asked you to read a paragraph you’d probably start on the left side of the page and read each sentence one word at a time.  At the end of each line, your eyes would wrap back around to the left and continue reading the next line word-for-word.  As you read, your lips might move and if you listen closely, you might even hear yourself saying each of the words.

Is this how you do it?

If you were taught to read by sounding out words, the answer likely is yes.  There isn’t anything wrong to this method of learning.  In fact it’s very effective for first-time readers and it’s the way most kids are still taught today.  Once you learn all of the sounds, you can apply that knowledge to pronounce any word.

The problem is, this technique, which has become a habit, limits how fast you can read.  We call this habit subvocalization and when you do it, you engage not only your eyes and your brain, but also your mouth and your ears.

Here’s what happens when you subvocalize:

  • Your eyes are busy seeing the words
  • Your mouth is busy saying the words your eyes see.  You’re either moving your lips or saying the words in your mind.  Those are the voices inside your head.
  • When you say something your ears naturally want in on the action so they tune in to hear what you are saying.
  • While your eyes, mouth and ears are doing all that work, your brain is busy trying to make sense of all of the input it’s receiving.  Your brain helps you understand what you read.

As you can see, that’s a lot of work!  And it’s also very inefficient.

When you say words as you read them, it is impossible to read any faster than you can talk.  Later on when you learn how to test your reading speed, you’ll see that this amounts to a reading speed between 150 and 200 words per minute.  That sounds fast – until you realize that breaking this one habit alone can double and maybe even triple that speed.

How do you break the subvocalization habit?

One simple way is to preoccupy your mouth.  When you give your mouth something else to do while you read, you can disengage the speech mechanism in the brain, allowing what your read to go straight to your conscious awareness rather than being slowed down by your brain needing to figure out how to say the words first.

Ever hear the saying, you can’t talk and chew gum?  Next time you read, stick a piece of gum in your mouth.  Chewing gum occupies your vocal cords and helps keep your brain from pronouncing the words you read.  Humming can do the same thing.

If if you can stop saying the words in your head as you read, you will start reading faster almost immediately. But that’s only the beginning of your potential. Soon I am going to show you more strategies that will speed your reading up even more.

So stay tuned for more posts and I’ll talk to you soon.

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