Speed Reading – Can you Read Faster? | Study Tips

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Hello my Socratica Friends! We’re here to help you be a GREAT student! Today, we’re going to focus on how you get
information INTO YOUR BRAIN. Well, one way. By reading. Wouldn’t you like to be able to read faster,
and understand everything you read? Doesn’t SPEED READING sound like a great
idea? You may have seen ads saying they can teach
you how to read faster. This is a real thing, but it’s not magic. You’re not going to be able to read thousands
of words per minute or a whole book in an hour. Let’s discuss how much speed reading can
actually work for you. Let me add a quick disclaimer, if you’ve
been having trouble with your reading – if you find it hard to focus on words, or letters
get mixed up, and you’re really trying but you can’t seem to improve… There are reading difficulties, such as dyslexia,
that are best handled by a specialist. Also, keep in mind there will be some physical
differences between people, that can affect how fast they can read. Some people have better vision than others. And as you age, you may start to notice changes
in your vision. Check with your eye doctor to make sure you
don’t need reading glasses, before you get discouraged. Now, on to speed reading. First, we need to understand that “reading”
is not just one thing you do. There’s more to it than just how fast you
can move your eyes down the page. It involves how your eyes move, how they focus,
and most importantly what goes on in your brain when you read. How would you speed each of these parts up? Let’s take a closer look at each step. Now this may surprise you – You can really
only focus on one or two words at a time, with maybe a few bonus letters on either side. There’s a physical limit here – you’re
not going to be able to actually read using your peripheral vision – only this central
region of your visual field, sometimes called “foveal vision.” As you read, you’ll linger on these couple
of words for a short time – we’re talking on the order of a few hundred milliseconds
– and then jump to the next few words in the sentence. Depending on if a word is especially meaningful,
you may linger a little longer. We call this FIXATION. If the word contains less meaning – words
like the, an, to, etc. you jump away from those words faster, because there isn’t
much there to comprehend. This “jumping” motion is called Eye Saccades
or Saccadic Motion. You many think that you continue on this way
in a straightforward fashion, marching down the page, but readers also jump back from
time to time. These are little episodes of review. These regressions help you connect what you
just read with something you read earlier. Maybe you don’t quite remember… you need
to check.. ah, right, so now you can move on. Again, this all happens in fractions of a
second. This isn’t you being undisciplined – it’s
a normal part of the reading process. What about the time spent jumping around? Can that be improved or eliminated? You can certainly get better at following
a page with practice. Do you remember, when you first learned to
read, how you had to keep your finger on each line in your book so you didn’t get lost? Now, you probably don’t. That’s a sign your skill has improved. You’re better at tracking along a line of
text and letting your eyes jump on their own, without missing. You may still miss occasionally, though, especially
if the text is small and there isn’t a lot of space between lines. If you’re reading digital text, on a computer
or an e-reader, you may be able to fiddle around with the settings to better match your
preferred text size and line spacing. You don’t have this option with a paper
copy of a book. With that in mind, if you really want to keep
on track, don’t feel bad about trailing a finger or a pencil along as you read. Hey, if that tool works, use it! Remember, though, that need to backtrack,
or “regress,” that happens naturally in reading. Don’t fight it too much. When it happens, it’s probably for a good
reason. After all, your goal should be to understand
what you’re reading, not to race to the finish line. This is one way that paper copies of books
are easier for you to read than digital books. When you open a book, you can see a lot – two
entire pages. On my e-reader, I’m lucky if I can see one
whole paragraph. That means I have to physically turn the page
back once or twice if I need to check on something I just read. That really slows down your reading. Maybe, one day, someone will come out with
a nice electronic reader that displays as much as a real book. We can hope. The most extreme solution to speeding up your
eye saccades is to eliminate them altogether. In this technique, you load your text into
some specialized software, and one word at a time is displayed right in the center of
your visual field. This is called Rapid Serial Visual Processing,
or RSVP for short. You can display individual words at a very
fast rate, much faster than they’re going here, and usually you can keep up with them. The original equipment used for this technique
was called a tachistoscope, which was a kind of slide projector, rapidly showing images
to train people to very, very quickly recognize targets. Like…enemy planes. This military technology was adopted by educators
for a while, to try to increase students’ reading speed. It’s making a bit of a comeback now, in
the form of some speed reading apps. There’s no denying that you can get through
the words faster this way – you don’t spend any time jumping your eyes and refocusing. But, you lose some of the native reading skill
you bring to the table. For instance, remember that you naturally
focus a little longer on important words. Content dense words. And you zoom right over smaller connecting
words that are less important. These RSVP technologies typically show every
word for the same amount of time, so you lose that natural advantage. I’m sure, we’ll eventually develop a smarter
system where you group words together – a big content word shown along with a little
connecting word, but I don’t think we’re there yet. Another issue with this technique is it COMPLETELY
eliminates the possibility to backtrack and grab a line from a previous sentence or paragraph
to help you understand what you just read. Regressions, remember, are not all bad. It’s not like a bad habit you need to completely
eliminate. It’s part of how we read to understand. I really don’t see how we can resolve that
issue. The need to backtrack seems fundamentally
incompatible with this technique. Moving on from eye motions to the actual READING. When you first learned to read, depending
on your schooling, you most likely learned to “sound out” words, using phonics. “Fuh – aw – nicks…….Phonics.” Sometimes you see people moving their lips
a bit as they read, falling back into their earliest reading habits. Even if you don’t speak out loud, or move
your lips, you probably still hear your own voice inside your head. In Kindergarten, we called this “reading
to yourself.” Many, if not all, readers continue to do this,
to some degree. The more technical term for this is “subvocalization.” You’re actually using the auditory parts
of your brain as you subvocalize, and you’re sending signals to your vocal cords, as if
you were speaking the words out loud (even though to an outside observer, you’re reading
silently). There’s been some research to take advantage
of subvocalization as a way to communicate wordlessly – for instance, for astronauts,
or soldiers who need to communicate in loud or remote settings. Many speed reading techniques focus on trying
to eliminate subvocalization. The thought is, reading out loud takes a lot
longer than just visually taking in the words and jumping on to the next word. But it may not be possible to completely eliminate
subvocalization. Research has shown that even when readers
are trying their best to not subvocalize, and they’re speeding their eyes along the
page, some signals are still going on in the auditory parts of the brain, and signals are
getting through to the vocal cords. Furthermore, if you try to FORCE yourself
to speed past every single word without subvocalizing them, you will probably find that your comprehension
goes down. That slightly slower pace due to subvocalization
seems to allow for a little time to better process what you’re reading. In any case, it makes sense, if you are interested
in reading faster, not to INDULGE yourself in a slow, plodding internal voice. Don’t perform your reading as if you’re
in a play, either, doing all the voices and including dramatic pauses. In other words, don’t get hung up on COMPLETELY
eliminating subvocalization (because you’re not going to be able to), but maybe try to
minimize its impact on your reading speed. Finally, let’s talk about that last stage
of reading, comprehension, which is undoubtedly the most important. Unlike the earlier stages of reading, it seems
much less mechanical – it’s a fluid process and is ever-changing, and has to do with what
you bring to the table when you read. So much goes into reading comprehension. Recognition of words and concepts, putting
what you just read into context, deciding if it answers outstanding questions you had,
whether you were surprised by the information…and your level of comprehension is different every
time you read. Just think – when you first started to read,
every single line, every chapter, every book you finished was a milestone. The more books you read, the more experienced
you grew as a reader. This is a skill that takes a long, long time
to build up. You’re still developing that skill, because
each time you gain information by reading it, you have yet another reading experience
to draw on. The very best way to become a great reader
is…to read. A lot. Read what you like, but make sure you read
some challenging books as well. In addition to just plain reading a lot, there
are other concrete steps you can take to more quickly improve your comprehension. Build your working vocabulary. If you’re reading something technical, make
sure to consult a glossary for this subject. If you keep finding yourself tripping up on
the same few words, go back to our favourite vocabulary building technique: flashcards,
with spaced repetition. Pretty soon, you’ll OWN those words, and
you’ll be able to quickly understand sentences where they appear. One popular technique for reading textbooks
more efficiently is pre-reading – taking a sneak peek at the chapter by reading section
headings, any boldface text, and the chapter summaries. You might call it skimming, especially if
you dip in here and there. Try reading the first and last sentences of
each paragraph. This way you’ll know what’s coming before
you read the whole chapter. A prepared mind is better equipped to take
in new information. Try it! We’ll talk more about this and other techniques
for reading textbooks in a separate video. Now let’s try a little test. We’ll put a link to a speed reading test
in the description below. Test yourself, then try some of these techniques
we discussed today. Give it a week. Then re-test yourself. What did you find? Tell us about it in the comments. And let us know if YOU have any secrets to
improve your reading. We all can become Great Students, together. Want to help us make more great videos? Join the Socratica Team on Patreon! Thank you for watching!

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