Monday, April 28, 2014

Speed Reading or Flim Flam?

How fast do you read? Does it matter? Some would argue that faster reading can actually improve comprehension since reading faster means forced concentration. Others argue that reading faster takes away the flavor of the writing.

So, how fast do you read? You could go to Speed Reading Test Online or use the Staples E-Reader Interactive. Or you could do it manually, but since we're in the computer age, why not let a website handle it for you? Sheesh.

Me? I like reading fast. Most tests I've taken recently clock me around 700 wpm. I've never formally taken a speed reading class, but I picked up some basics:

1) Don't say the words in your brain. Hard as this may be for some people, encoding and decoding only slows you down. 2) Chunk when possible. Read groups of words at one time. 3) Use a guide. Your finger is your friend. I know that sounded bad, but you can use your finger to over come regression, the habit people have of skipping back to what they've read. 

Three simple changes to reading habits can make quite a difference. Or if you love apps, then consider letting one of those help you out. If you don't consider it unusual using a tablet or a phone as a primary e-reader, consider downloading one of these.  Spritz, Velocity, and Balto are all efficient and popular choices. There are others, and like most apps, it's a matter of installing and trying them out, finding what's best for you.

Still, not everyone is a fan of speed reading and speed reading apps. The greatest argument is that speed comes at sacrifice to comprehension. A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science. April 18th, 2014, focuses on the importance of saccades, the rapid eye movement which speed reading seeks to control. This study and others demonstrates we're still learning about the mind and how it processes information. We'll probably see more research on reading apps and comprehension in the next couple years.

So how fast do you read? Isn't it more about adapting to source material and finding the speed and style which feels most comfortable and functional?


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