Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Speed Reading - Part IV


Sub-vocalization is the tendency for the reader to ‘mouth’ the words in the passage they are reading. Usually, this arises due to the use of the phonic or ‘look-say’ method used, to teach children. Although sub-vocalization is an impediment towards reading, they is a specific method to overcome it.

The best suggestion comes from The Speed Reading Book by Tony Buzan. The ideas below are largely based on his book, so check it out, if you are interested.

It is important to realize that for most readers, sub-vocalization cannot and should not, be completely eliminated. For these readers, sub-vocalization forms part of the thought process in rendering the written material intelligible. It allows them to consciously increase the ‘volume’ of the material being read and assist in comprehension.

Whilst sub-vocalization persists, it can be pushed further and further back into the semi-conscious, such that the reader becomes less dependent on it. The reader must sub-vocalize using his brain and avoid verbalizing (or saying out aloud) the material he is reading. It is important to realize that it is THE BRAIN that is performing the sub-vocalization and not the mouth. It is possible to sub-vocalize at a reading speed of 2,000 words per minute.

How can one push sub-vocalization, further and further back to the semi-conscious? This can be performed by using a reading guide to aid your eyes in focusing on the reading material. The best reading guide would be a long thin object such as a slim pencil, which will avoid blocking your view of the page. Using the finger as a reading guide is discouraged, since the hand blocks your vision of the page.

Place the reading guide underneath the line you are reading and sweep it smoothly along the reading materials. Stop moving the reading guide once you have read the whole line and move downwards.

Refer to the diagram above to see how your reading should look like.

Verbal sub-vocalization is a bad reading habit that must be stopped as it impedes your reading speed. For most, mental sub-vocalization cannot be avoided. In order to improve your reading speeds, mental sub-vocalization must be pushed into the semi-conscious by increasing your reading speed. You can achieve this by using a reading guide such as a slim pencil.

Any comments or questions are most welcome.



Dear Avatar,

Quite often I find i don't remember what I have read.

Let say if I could read and comprehand a large amount of text in good time, but what use is it if I can't recall them few months or few years down the line. Basically, I have learnt and unlearnt. For example, we have touch a lot of subjects while we were in school, but how many of us could actually recall the things we have learnt in our chemistry or history classes, if we have not touch on these subjects since those school days.

Is this a common problem? or is it just me?!

Is there anyway we could increase our memory capacity?

Thank you,


Dear Anonymous,

Good question. Whilst you may have unlearnt some things, for those subjects that you were really interested, I believe it's just dormant in your brain.

It's just like learning to ride a bike. You never really forget.

Your last question is interesting. Yes, there is. One such technique is mnemonics and is really quite easy to learn.

I'll blog about this maybe 3 months down the road. Check Harry Lorayne's 'Super Powered Memory' book, if you can't wait.

Hope my advice is of some help. :)



Dear Avatar,

Thank you for your repsonse. I will read up your old post.


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