HOW TO IMPROVE READING
- Reading speed: Definition
To explain the interaction between reading and the mind, let us look at the example of driving. If we accelerate the car from 45 to 90 M.P.H., the brain is forced to adapt to this new speed and tend to assimilate the information faster. If later, we slow down to 60 M.P.H., the brain makes our senses believe that we are actually going much slower. This is because when we speed up, the brain is forced to process more information in less time; therefore when we slow down, the brain still has extra time to perceive greater amounts of details. This example can be applied to reading: when reading speed is increased, the brain, adapting to it, actually can assimilate more information in shorter periods of time. The average reading speed of a university student is 240 words per minute (w.p.m.), but with fast reading training, the same student can read up to 800 or even to 1,500 w.p.m.
- Reading speed: Practices
Seeing the value and power of speed-reading, one feels motivated to get rid of poor reading habits and develop new and more efficient ones for his/her distance learning education. The basic rule of mastering proper reading habits is: practice, practice, and more practice! Throughout online learning, we should set up training sessions where the focus will be on increasing reading speed as opposed to remembering. We are looking for the same effect that acceleration has on the brain while driving.
- Choosing the best reading speed depends on the reading purpose:
Study-Paced Reading (250 w.p.m.):
This is the speed to ensure comprehension, to face complex issues or new vocabulary.
Fast Reading (400-800 w.p.m.):
This is the ideal speed for reviews, reports, summaries, and previously read texts.
Exploratory Reading (500-1500 w.p.m.):
This is the right speed for the first recognition of a text. It allows identification of the topic, the main points, and the principal details in a short period of time. Most important of all, it prepares the reader for a good content assimilation. When exploring a text for the first time, determine its length and structure and pinpoint major ideas. Then, when ready to study the text, one can get straight to the heart of the matter. Exploratory reading as a time-saving technique is extremely important if a book is to be studied chapter by chapter because the faster reading pace allows for exploring previous and following chapters, increasing learning capacity and the ability to cover the main points and answer potential questions.
- Why does the majority of people read slower than they could?
Unfortunately, this phenomena is rooted in the poor reading habits children acquire during their early childhood development. A habit is developed if an activity is repeated regularly over a period of time. The way we read is a habit. The good news is that modifying reading habits is a simple process that can be accomplished over a relatively short period of time, depending on individual personality characteristics and how much effort is put into it. Again the key to success is practice, practice, and more practice. Here are some benefits of gaining reading speed:
- Gaining time in identifying what is important and discarding what is secondary.
- Assimilating essential points of a text faster and more effortlessly.
- Understanding with greater clarity allows for a more effective store in memory.
- Having more time to study specific topics in depth.
- Correcting common reading habits:
Uniform reading speed: The complexity of different texts is not the same. Therefore, learn to adapt the reading speed to the level of text difficulty and to the purpose of reading in each concrete case.
Low speed: Reading slowly fragments the reading material and limits perception. Reading fast allows greater clarity in the assimilation of concepts and ideas.
Inefficient eye movement: While reading, the eyes tend to go back and read the same line again. Also, when passing to the next line the eyes are tempted to wonder aimlessly for few minutes before focusing directly on the first word in the following line.
Low eye perception range: When the eyes are fixed on a text, they usually perceive between 3-4 words. This quite low eye perception range results from poor childhood reading habits where children are taught to read word by word. The eyes can be trained through practice to see up to 12 words every time they are fixed on a text.
Sub-vocalization: This habit is also known as auditory reaffirmation and it described pronouncing each word, to one-self or aloud, as the eyes are fixed on it. Similar to low eye perception rate; this habit is rooted in those early school days, when teachers made pupils read aloud to ensure the connection between letters and sound is established. It is beneficial to eradicate this habit as soon as possible because it limits the reading speed to talking speed, which is usually much slower.
Distractions: Both internal and external distractions affect our reading comprehension because they break our concentration and oblige us to repeat the text several times in order to assimilate it.