If you are like most people, then you probably have one or more reading habits that slow you down. Becoming a better reader means overcoming these bad habits, so that you can clear the way for new, effective ways of reading.
Below are some of the most common bad reading habits and how you can overcome them.
Sub-Vocalization: This is a habit of pronouncing each word in your head as you read. When you sub-vocalize, you ‘hear’ the word being spoken in your mind, which in turn takes up more time than necessary. To avoid this, you have to first acknowledge the fact that it is there, in your mind, and then practice ‘not speaking.’ Reading blocks of words also helps, as it is harder to vocalize a block of words. Eliminating sub-vocalization alone can increase your reading speed by an astounding amount.
Reading word-by-word: Not only is it slow to read word-by-word, but when you concentrate on separate words, you often miss the overall concept of what is being said. Practice expanding the number of words you read at a time. You may also find that you can increase the number of words you read in a single fixation by holding the text a little further from your eyes.
Inefficient eye motion: Slow readers tend to focus on each word, and work their way across each line. The eye can actually span about 1.5 inches at a time, which, for an average page, encompasses four or five words. Related to this is the fact that most readers do not use their peripheral vision to see words at the ends of each line. To overcome this, ‘soften’ your gaze when you read – by relaxing your face and expanding your gaze, you will begin to see blocks of words instead of seeing each word as distinct unit.
Regression: Sometimes people get into the habit of skipping back to words they have just read, while, some may jump back a few sentences, just to make sure that they read something right. This is known as regression. When you regress, you lose the flow and structure of the text, and your overall understanding of the subject can decrease. Be very conscious of regression, and do not allow yourself to re-read material unless you absolutely have to.
Poor Concentration: If you have tried to read while the TV is on, you will probably know how hard it is to concentrate on one word, let alone many sentences strung together. Reading should be done in an environment where external distractions are kept to a minimum. To improve your concentration, stop multitasking and start reading.
Approaching reading linearly: We are taught to read across and down, taking in every word, sentence, paragraph and page in sequence. When it you do this, there is a tendency for you to pay the same attention to supplementary material as you do to the core information. Overcome this by scanning the page for headings, and by looking for bullet points and things in bold. You do not have to read the entire material to understand what the author is trying to say.