Speed reading isn’t just a matter of cranking up the speed at which your eyes cross a page, though: there are multiple methods for increasing your reading speed. It’s also worth considering that different approaches to reading have both benefits and drawbacks. In general, the methods that allow a person to read faster don’t always provide for the same level of comprehension that slower reading allows.
No matter what approach a particular speed reading system takes, most start with eliminating bad reading practices and then accelerating reading speed through a series of exercises. Bad reading habits can include:
- Sounding out word out loud as one reads — or subvocalizing
- Re-scanning over passages already read
- Moving one’s eyes across the page as one reads
- Using one reading speed for all reading material
Subvocalization is often considered the biggest barrier to speed reading. Because of the way that reading is taught in most schools — students learn to sound out letters rather than recognize whole words — most readers automatically sound out words, especially those that aren’t in their normal reading vocabulary. Subvocalization, no matter its value for initially learning to read, slows down most readers. That’s because saying a word, whether aloud or subvocally, takes more time than recognizing a word.
There are also recommended speed-reading software: