There are many reasons why people read and for those of you who want to sit down with a good book, relax and savour every moment, even I can confirm that you don’t need to speed read through the book! However for many of us our jobs depend upon being able to read quickly and efficiently. When I was a Webmaster I had to maintain 3000 pages and even as a hobby I maintain about 250 pages. Furthermore the average undergraduate should read 10,080,000 words per semester. (Check out my website for the calculation.) For these reasons it is imperative that you learn to read faster. Like any other skill before we start to acquire new techniques we must understand what maybe slowing us down and quite frankly rather like smoking, a lot of kids picked up some bad habits at school! So let us have a look at those bad habits and how they are slowing down your reading speed.James Abela originally came from an online Marketing background, his biggest responsibility was looking after 5000 pages for ARM Plc in England. Since he's started teaching he's done teacher-training, taught absolute beginners through to advanced, IELTs and the Cambridge exams and worked for a few companies and the big names include: British Council, Ministry of Defence, New Straits Times, University of Southern California, Sanofi and DHL.
Reading Out Loud
Many children’s reading abilities are tested by reading out loud and this is fine if you want to test a child’s ability to pronounce the words, but it does not test comprehension and worse it can leave a nasty side-effect: sub-vocalisation (the voice inside people’s heads). I can hear it now as I type, but the difference is that I am typing as I think and a typing speed of 100 words per minute is not bad. If you can hear that voice now as you read, then I am afraid your Ferrari of a brain is being kept in gear 1. Incidentally, words per minute (wpm) is the official measure of typing speed in a minute and a word is any five characters.
Using Your Hands
Some of us were told NOT to use our hands when reading, so we were expected to track our reading by simply looking at the page. Teachers at my school were fairly abusive and regularly used to point out my so-called stupidity. In actual fact, removing your hands when reading is the act of stupidity, because your hands are a great metronome and cannot only keep track of where you are but also encourage you to speed up your reading.
Skipping to the Back
Of course teachers do not want you to read the answers in the back of the book, but that does not mean you now have to read from the beginning to the end of every book. Sometimes, reading the end first can be a tremendous help. I have a personal hatred of books that leave you a cliffhanger and you have to wait for an eternity for the next book to appear.
In-Depth Comprehension Tests
Let us not forget that many a time people need to read something at a certain level of depth. I have seen too many English textbooks that just test the depth of the learners' reading ability and never their overall understanding of the text.
In this regard, books designed for students learning English as a foreign language are far superior and ask for an overview before getting into questions that require intensive reading. Imagine reading the telephone directory line by line to find the information you need, I doubt many people would get beyond the letter ‘a’. Not everything you read needs to be read so intensively.
Once we have understood why these habits are bad for us, then we are ready to begin the journey towards reading faster, with purpose and clear understanding of the information we have digested. To find out more and test your reading speed, visit my website.
Or if you are in Kuala Lumpur for the book fair (In PWTC) drop by the Marshall Cavendish booth stand number 3156 in Hall 3 and pick up a copy of X-Treme Speed Reading. On the 13th April at 3.30pm I will be doing a presentation at the Activity Hall.
Monday, April 07, 2008
4 Bad Reading Habits Picked up at School
This piece is guest-blogged for us by James Abela, author of X-treme Speed Reading and X-treme Creative Writing.