Your reading speed matters greatly and the bad habits that hold you back
Jun 17, 2016
How fast you read is tightly connected to how much you enjoy your reading experience. The slower you read – the less you enjoy the book and reading in general.
Bad Reading Habit No. 1 – Reading single letters instead of words
I will not go deeply into this habit here because only 3-7% of the people attending my workshops have this problem. This is a habit that some readers, mostly very young ones, cling to for far too long. When we learn to read – we begin by reading single letters – and then group them together to form a word.
Many people, mostly young readers but I have had readers far into adulthood with this problem, cling to this habit for far too long. What I ask them to do is simple. Build and use your vocabulary – learn to recognize the words instead of reading letters.
A typical reader with this problem reads around 30-80 words per minute. A 15 year old girl that came to one of my weekend workshops read around 30 words per minute when she started and she told me that she did not enjoy reading. School was hard; she had severe learning disabilities, dyslexia and ADD. Reading to her was torture – something she would try to avoid at all costs. And who can blame her.
If the average page in a novel contains around 380 words per page. This 15 year old girl would need close to 13 minutes to read a single page. 13 minutes!! – No wonder reading was a torture for her. No wonder she would rather be doing anything else than read a book. Over the course of a weekend – just over 24 hours passed – since she started with 30 WPM (words per minute) until she finished the workshop with 340 WPM in a test with 70% comprehension. How? Just by applying what she learnt over the course of the weekend, she formed new and better reading skills and this opened up a whole new world for her. Reading would never again be torture for this girl and school would be a breeze.
Bad Reading Habit No. 2 – Subvocalizing or reading aloud – silently – in your mind.
I will go a bit deeper into this because far too many cling to this habit for far too long. When we were learning to read – as our reading skills progressed and we were able to sound out words, our teacher asked us to read aloud. And this was in fact the only way for our teacher or our parents to see how our reading skills were progressing, to hear us reading aloud through the text or book.
At some point when we got good at reading aloud – no one wanted to listen to us any longer – and we were asked to read silently. But many of us kept on reading aloud – to ourselves – silently – word for word – in our mind.
A typical reader with this problem reads around 90-160 words per minute. This happens because he is silently sounding out each word. He is almost hearing each word in his mind, just like he did when he read aloud for his teacher or parent – at a young age. Common problems associated with this problem is whispering the words as he reads them or moving his lips as he reads the words.
An older gentleman, around 70 years old, attended my Speed Reading Workshop a few years ago and he still had this habit of whispering the words when he sounded out the text while reading. And it wasn’t a soft whisper either – the group in the workshop noticed this very well. I took him to the side in our first break and told him that his habit would hold him back from reaching any heights in his reading speed. I gave him simple instructions on how to lose this habit and 14 days later when he attended the last session in the workshop, he handed me a bouquet of flowers.
The flowers were not from him – they were from his wife. They had been married for 50 years and one of their favorite past time was to sit in bed late at night – just before going to sleep – and read a few pages. She had put up with his not so soft whispers while reading for 50 years – side by side - and now after 14 days under my guidance it had stopped – and she only wanted to thank me – and was only sorry for not sending him to me much earlier.
Keep in mind that a person who is speaking – even though he is speaking fast – can never achieve the same speed as his mind. Our mind races through information and it will always achieve greater speeds than when we are talking. A fluent speaker is saying around 110-160 words per minute.
If we limit our reading to sounding out each and every word on a page – we are limiting our mind. We are holding our mind back from gathering information from the text. Our mind can go much faster and it wants to go much faster. We are allowing old and outdated habits to hold us back.
Jon Bjarnason, the Learning Boss, is a 4th generation Entrepreneur from Iceland, a best selling author featured in Counter-Attack & the Next Big Thing – and founder of the Learning Boss Program where he has incorporated his knowledge and experience as an Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner, Speed Reading Instructor, Productivity Boss, Guerrilla Marketing Coach and iMindMap Master Trainer in helping other Entrepreneurs, Small Business Owners and Executives to achieve more success, freedom, time and focus in their daily life.