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Does Speed Reading Work?

October 16, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 142

...or is speed reading a scam?

Lots of people think that speed reading can't possibly work--or that perhaps it's only for skimming. These are smart and careful consumers, who don't want to waste their time on something that isn't going to work. They have seen courses that offer to teach them to read at incredible speeds, and they've heard of many strange practice techniques, which frankly--leave them quite skeptical.

Many can't believe that finger-waving patterns, or eye-span-widening exercises, are going to be enough to make it possible to read, comprehend, and retain information as fast as they can flip pages. Of course they're leery--these claims do sound pretty unbelievable!

Is speed reading real?

It's true the 'speed reading' industry has had its share of quackery--in fact many instructors now avoid even using the term 'speed reading', and instead refer to 'effective' or 'efficient' reading.

The term 'speed reading' was originated by Evelyn Wood, who opened the Institute of Reading Dynamics in 1960. But with little business experience and no advertising, her business went bankrupt within a year. The new owners decided advertising was not only important--it was everything! Wild claims and then an endorsement by President Kennedy suddenly turned Reading Dynamics into a huge craze.

Business was booming... but unfortunately few students could master the strange techniques the new owners preached, or reach the amazing speeds they promised... and the industry fell into disfavor. But the business didn't fail because it's impossible for people to learn to read faster--it failed because not enough people could attain the speeds promised by doing the exercises suggested.

You can learn to read faster!

The average reading speed is 250 words per minute, and most people can learn to at least double or triple that speed. This may be slower than you can turn pages... but you certainly should be able to call this 'speed reading'.

So don't be discouraged by the carnival which sometimes seems to surrounds the speed reading field. When you cut through all the hyperbole, the way to greatly increase reading speed, is to change from concentrating on words to concentrating on ideas.

The mind of the poor reader loafs along, picking up very small units of meaning at a time, while the excellent reader races over the lines, gathering entire ideas at each glance. A person who reads one word at a time, thinks in terms of separate words and "can't see the forest for the trees."

It may sound impossible to read multiple words at the same time-but you can... if you actively concentrate on visualizing ideas, instead of passively reciting words.

Reading thought-units

Sentences can usually be divided into short 'thought-units', which can be understood in a single glance. Even though you can only think of one thing at a time, that one thing doesn't have to be one single word, but instead can be one whole idea. By learning to visualize the meaning of each thought-unit, you can teach yourself to read in 'pictures'. When you experience this way of reading, words will no longer be pronounced as if a conversation is occurring in your head, but will be viewed as images, more like flipping through a picture book or watching a movie.

Anyone can learn speed reading.

Although the speed reading industry may have been tarnished, there are still many people who actually do read very fast with excellent comprehension and retention. It doesn't take some special aptitude--anyone can learn to be a fast reader--with the proper technique. It's definitely wise to be skeptical of hard-to-believe claims and exercises, but don't miss the advantages of the powerful reading techniques available to you. You can learn speed reading by learning to read thought-units, and learning to focus on ideas rather than words.

For an easy way to learn to read thought-units, there is a free web-app:, which can divide any English text into thought-units. ReadSpeeder includes hundreds of free books, and even allows you to add your own text. ReadSpeeder's unique patent-pending ability to divide text into thought-units, is a speed reading breakthrough which finally makes it easy to practice reading thought-units. ReadSpeeder is your shortcut to faster reading.

Source: EzineArticles
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