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SPEED READING TECHNIQUE #3: GETTING RID OF REGRESSION AND SUB-VOCALIZATION
Just as important as learning new speed reading techniques is avoiding pre-existing bad reading habits. Here, we will discuss two of the biggest obstacles to speed reading: Regression and Sub-vocalization.
Because of lack of reading confidence or just a natural habit of double-checking, we often re-read text that we’ve just read- just to be sure we did read it right. The truth is that we have often read it perfectly the first time- going over it again just slows us down. This bad reading practice is called Regression and you can throw it off by using a pacer (as discussed in the meta-guiding technique). By covering text you’ve read with a piece of paper, you will be able to resist looking at it again because you know you won’t be able to see it.
Re-reading is sometimes essential- particularly when you’re reading difficult and/or technical material. But mostly it is done only to reassure ourselves of what we’ve read. Willing yourself to resist the temptation and taking confidence in your reading abilities will help you avoid the practice and become a speed reader.
Another bad reading habit that slows us down is the practice of sub-vocalization which is the ‘sounding-out’ of words while we read them- whether consciously or unconsciously, silently or audibly. We tend to sub-vocalize because we like hearing how they sound as we pronounce them and because we were schooled that way- as kids, we all learnt words by stringing letters to each other and sounding them out. While it is an effective way to learn new words as children, as a mature reader, you only slow yourself down when you subvocalize. That is because you end up reading only as fast as you can pronounce the words- you try to synchronize with your speech speed which is naturally much slower than your reading speed. The reading process does not and should not involve your larynx, mouth and ears. When you read with strictly your eyes (and visualizing large chunks of data in a single eye fixation), you reduce your reading time. If it’s hard for you to stop sub-vocalizing, try chewing gum or placing a pencil between your lips while you read- this will stop you from sounding out what you read.
The good speed reader engages only his vision when he’s reading and makes a conscious effort to avoid regressing or sub-vocalizing.
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