How Does Speed Reading work?
To answer this question that does speed reading actually works, let’s start with a brief description of this method. Speed reading is a skill which is claimed to increase the ability of readers to read a text quickly. A number of techniques are suggested as being efficient on increasing speed reading skill. Today we are going to see how speed reading works.
Mechanism of speed reading
If you look at the eyes of a person who is looking at something you can see his eyes are not fixed, rather they are moving and exploring different aspects of the thing they are watching. This movement is not constant; eyes move around and then stop for some seconds and they start moving again. The duration that eyes are constant is called fixation and the movement between fixations is called jumping. When we read a text our eyes jump from one fixation point to another one. Sometimes they come back to read a fixation point once more to gain more comprehension. If a text is conceptual and difficult, we need lots of fixations in order to comprehend the text. While reviewing a text, we need little fixation points.
Speed reading is based on this fact. This method tries to decrease the number of fixation points, that’s how speed reading works. In this method, one should practice to see more and more words in a single fixation and then jump through sentences instead of single words.
One of the common courses of speed reading is showing short sentences on a screen for a very short time. Trainees try to understand and read these sentences loudly. This help trainees to jump from one fixation to the other one quickly and read a group of words in a single glance. This practice needs high levels of concentration and this concentration, in turn, is claimed to increase comprehension as well. we require at least 10 sessions of training and practice, to learn professional speed reading skills.
Does Speed Reading Work Really?
However, there are some controversies about the efficiency of speed reading techniques. The main criticism against this method is the issue of comprehension. The cons of this method believe that speed reading techniques decrease comprehension level. They believe that it is impossible to both keep comprehension level high and increase the speed of reading three times as regular pace. It may be possible about simple texts which do not have many new concepts. We also need more concentration on those texts which contain lots of new and important concepts.
Does speed reading decrease comprehension level?
As it was mentioned before the most important doubt about speed reading is the level of comprehension. But the pros of speed reading believe that this skill is not in conflict with maximum comprehension. Some research indicates a comprehension level as low as 35% for regular reading in comparison to 53% for speed reading. As you can see, the pros of this method suggest something totally different. They believe this method can increase comprehension by improving reading skills and concentration.
What is your purpose of reading?
One of the other criteria for the efficiency of speed reading is your purpose of reading. Do you know what are you looking for? In other words, is there a piece of specific information you are looking for? Speed reading is most suitable for those who are looking for specific information. Skimming and scanning are two main techniques of speed reading which can help readers to gain an overview of the information given in a text. This overview will help you gain the information you need in a shorter time and do not spend excess time on irrelevant material. An overview will be beneficial, even in the case of conceptual and difficult texts.
Speed reading is a skill which can be improved
In fact, there are people who have been trained for speed reading. There are lots of books and institutes dedicated to speed reading and its techniques and there are lots of people practicing this method. One of the practitioners says reading is a skill and you can improve any skill by keep on practicing. In fact, reading is a complex skill and like other kinds of skill, you can improve it through practice. Those who have passed speed reading courses claim that their reading skills have significantly increased. Sometimes a fast review of the content helps you to get familiar with the main ideas of the text and comprehend it better in your second read.
Reading is like driving
One of the practitioners of speed reading talks about her personal experience in this regard and says even difficult texts which need high levels of concentration can be read by this method. She compares speed reading with driving and believes that speed reading causes her to have a wider field of sight with higher levels of concentration. She adds: “my sister had astigmatism before starting speed reading courses. But to our surprise, her problem resolved after practicing this method!”