My parents noticed this and gave me a speed reading book. I incorporated each an every item on that book including the removal of subvocalization. It certainly gave returns right away, allowing me to consume books at a faster rate, but a huge cost.
Years later, I entered college as an engineering student. I noticed that when reading highly technical textbooks, and classes that required deep comprehension of text, I was much much slower that my classmates, or my comprehension level was much lower. Turns out, it was taking almost double the time for me to get through a section.
Really wished I didnt read the speed reading book now. I dont blame my parents at all, it was unfortunate that at nearly 40, i'm still trying to unlearn what that speed reading book taught me. I'm trying to re-learn subvocalication but its very very hard to 'slow' myself down. I've actually installed screen readers to replace subvocalization with some positive effect.
Fundamentally, speed reading through something is at odds with processing that information in a useful way. And therein lies the rub: I don't read something merely for the sake of reading it.
When I read novels, I enjoy losing myself daydreaming in another world, and savouring the emotions of the characters while thinking about how I would react in their shoes. When I read technical documentation I'm attemping to create or update mental models of technical concepts. When I read a friend's Facebook post I think about what, if any, response I will offer or how I would deal with their situation. When I read a message from my girlfriend I have to take time to understand and plan for whatever she's discussing or asking.
I'm honestly struggling to see the value in speed reading. I cannot think of why I would be reading something simply for the sake of reading it without further processing. More valuable would be learning ways to process information more efficiently, i.e. accurately and quickly.
There is also a tremendous value to watching an important lecture twice: the first time on fast-forward so that you understand the structure of the talk and the gist of the subject, and the second time on normal speed so that you can really get into the details. A lot of writing tries to give you an "overview" or "table of contents" to accomplish the same task, but when it's not there, skimming can be extremely useful.
When I read it in a normal app (Kindle), I appreciated the beauty of the language, the depth of the characters, and the intricate storyline so much more.
For business stuff, a similar problem occurred - I missed out on key points in emails, and was less creative in solutions. I'm not saying that this applies to everyone, but for me, reading slowly is more efficient.
The key is reading the right stuff more slowly, and not reading the wrong stuff at all.
Sometimes you don't need to fully process a text, just know where in it you can find answers for any questions you might have later. For example when reading technical documentation. Speed reading is great for that.
I never took a speed reading course or lesson, but I cannot recall ever having subvocalized. I find myself hitting 750 wpm on speed reading tests with decent comprehension. Not great, but decent.
To use a computing metaphor, I feel like I'm reading with two threads - one to take in all the words as quickly as possible, and a second one to pick the important ones out of the stream. The first thread is completely unconscious, to the point where if you ask me to find a specific word on a page of text, I can always pick it out within 2-3 seconds.
But I feel like a greyhound, itching to run at top speed. Reading fiction is a constant struggle to keep myself chained, forcing myself to imagine the scene playing out, when all I want to do is speed ahead to find out what happens next. It's like an internal war, and it gets worse at the climatic moments.
I've recently been contemplating a re-reading of LOTR, but feel so far away from the potential to immerse myself in the universe that I have not even given it a serious try. Virtually all of my consumption is rapid reading of relatively light fare that I can consume in a one or two sittings.
The introduction of digital means has not helped me (i.e. Kindle, Kindle App), as this increases my propensity for speed, and virtually the only novels which conform to my expectations are overly long novels (i.e. Neal Stephenson) which provide enough change of pace without any particularly deep or moving characters.
Frankly, I have no idea what to do either. I also feel like a greyhound on steroids, incapable of fictional engagement if it does not come at breakneck speed.
Funny thing, it was at english class that I actually started noticing it. The exercise was to read against the grain and find the hidden meaning. I didnt get it until I physically read out loud.
While this article seems well researched, I find this claim very hard to believe. I can read while singing (not a song with words, but a tune that I know well, without words).
I really don't think I "talk to [myself] so quietly, it cannot be heard" and while my "tongue and vocal chords" may "receive speech signals from [my] brain", I'm pretty sure they're not executed and neither my tongue or my vocal chords move in any way.
(While reading in English there are some words I don't even know how to pronounce, so how could I "subvocalize" them...?)
- - -
The other point I have issues with is the fact that one should retain everything they read while speed reading. While I'm unfamiliar with speed reading classes' claims, I would argue that it's useful to be able to skim a big wall of text to
1- get a rough idea of what it's about
2- determine if it's worth a further, more thorough examination
That may not be called "speed reading", but it's certainly a helpful skill.
I tried to learn speed reading and got pretty decent at it, I can still do it to an extent. In all honesty, I remembered more about texts that I speed read than texts I would read normally.
The only real difference was that when speed reading I didn't have the feeling that I know the full text, but when tested the knowledge would just magically appear out of nowhere; knowledge I didn't know I had.
Eventually I stopped speed reading because it's too much effort. Usually when I'm reading it's to relax the mind, give it a low effort activity to keep itself busy while I rest. Speed reading seemed counter productive for that sort of thing.
Also, speed reading is rubbish for fiction books. You get none of the pleasant pictures in your head and watching the book like an imaginative movie, but all of the feeling of consuming information at a breakneck pace without much time to take pleasure in it.
PS: my main issue with normal reading is that it isn't taxing enough. Especially when I'm trying to study something. Then my mind starts looking for a distraction and I suddenly realise I have no idea what I'm reading. Or simply get bored of it. Speed reading very effectivelyf orces you to focus on what you're reading (probably why I have a higher retention rate when speed reading)
I'm skeptical of the claim about subvocalization made here as well, but I'm realistic enough to know that I'm not different enough to fall outside the realms of the study referenced.
 My reading speed in this `mode', so to speak, ranges from 300-750 WPM, depending on how engaged I am in the material. I measure comprehension by testing myself via asking others (with a copy of the material in question) to quiz me on the content after such a reading session.
I think another way to test to see how well someone speed reads is to have them pick out a concept out of non-indexed data. If someone speed reads beyond their ability they will skip over it, if they are not a speed reader it will take some time for them to find it.
Easy, you just mispronounce it. You either break up the syllables that you can pronounce, hoping it forms the correct word, or you just read it as it would sound in your mother language.
for example, here Feynman talks about being able to count verbally in his mind while reading, but being unable to speak (since he is using his 'speaking' to count). and his acquaintance is able to count visually in his mind while speaking, but isn't able to read (since he is using his 'eyes' to count).
The next thing that entered my head is: How does the reading speed of deaf-from-birth compare to those who learned to read and then became deaf?
I can't understand if by subvocalization he means moving your throat/mouth or simply repeating the words you are reading in your mind without moving any muscles.
Wikipedia says "subvocalization is defined as the internal speech made when reading a word", which further confuses me.
I don't move any muscles while reading, but my internal monologue repeats the words I read, does this mean i subvocalize?
Apparently the signals are very weak, but they do exist and can be detected.
I know I basically need to translate mathematical statements to English in my head to comprehend them -- at least the first time I see them. But I'm also not a mathematician. As a programmer, I know I sometimes do it with code -- but I'm not sure how often -- I don't know if I've ever really thought about it. I suspect I'll become a little bit more self-conscious about it now, until I find out.
In fact, many of the "hints" in the written symbols are based on words that sound similar to other words when pronounced (their actual meaning being unrelated), which is fully lost if you cut out the vocalization. As another point, most words are written with multiple symbols, and the meaning of the overall word may be rather different than the words you would get if you read the symbols individually. At that point, I don't see any difference from a word written with an alphabet like English.
I posit that if you were a native Chinese speaker, you could skim (or speed read as claimed in the article) without any subvocalization and still understand the given passage.
Come back when you've hooked up NASA's subvocalization detector to a Chinese man and seen it register nothing while s/he reads.
When I am reading aloud, I typically read a few words ahead of what I'm speaking -- and sometimes as much as a sentence or two! It's really necessary to get the emphasis right; I like to comprehend a whole sentence (or at least a clause!) before trying to verbally reproduce it.
I find it hard to imagine that I'm trying to 'say' two things at once. Certainly, I wouldn't know how to do that on purpose.
I'll excerpt a few paragraphs.
[Page 191 - http://goo.gl/VLaaM]
Electromyographic Recording (EMG) records have been widely used to study the role of subvocalization in reading. [...] Generally, EMGs are also recorded from some other part of the body, such as the forearm, where muscle activity should have no relevance for reading. In fact, normal skilled readers show little forearm activity during reading, while EMG activity in the speech tract increases markedly during reading in comparison to the baseline condition (where the subject sits quietly). In contrast, deaf readers show a considerable amount of forearm activity during reading (we shall see the reason for that later in this chapter).
[Page 211 - http://goo.gl/R3NPT]
That profoundly deaf people can read at all is sometimes taken as evidence that speech recoding in normal readers is optional. However, as we have seen, they do not read very well, and the best available evidence indicates that when reading English text deaf readers recode the printed information into their native language (ASL) for comprehension purposes. Since they have not experienced speech sounds, recoding into a phonological code is precluded from deaf readers. Instead, the information is recoded into a manual form to aid comprehension. The poor reading of deaf people is thus probably due in part to inner speech being a more efficient system of recoding than overt manual gestures.
Readers of logographic systems such as Chinese can probably access the meaning of many printed characters directly from the visual representation. However, associations between the printed word and the appropriate pronunciation are activated during reading and appear to be important in comprehending text.
Think about when you look at code and automatically chunk the bits you have seen a million times before but are somehow magically able pick out the needle in the haystack which tells you what is special in this instance. The layout of code helps enormously for us, but I find the effect is the same with reading if I go quickly and with specific purpose to reformulate the information as it is scanned. And the more you do it the better you get because you have more data to draw from when identifying structures. It gets to the point where often I want an author to be formulaic rather than stylish and idiosyncratic because it makes it much quicker to reorganise and internalise.
I guess the real solution is to use a denser language?
Hence legalese, and bureaucratese, and any number of other things that get laughed at and railed against in equal measure.
Beyond that, you can certainly train for optimal eye movement, local or global optimum as the case may be. After I took speed-reading, I knew not to look directly at the very ends of lines, and I found it more comfortable to center my eyes on white space than on actual text.
IIRC, I tested up to 800 WPM, but that was on grade-appropriate material in a high school I found easy.
(Of course, this was all in the 1970s, when what one read was black text in a familiar font in neat rows on white paper, all at least somewhat thoughtfully arranged. Things are different now ...)
My best real-life estimates of my reading speed was in the 400 words a minute range, with sub-vocalization. E.g., I have a few times read 3 novels the same day, most memorably 2 days before my PhD qualifying exams. (One day beforehand, I crammed like mad. :D One hour beforehand, I led my fellow students in the most awkward game of frisbee ever.)
But it all depends on the material, and the approach to reading it. E.g., there are certain chapter subsections of Hormander's book on Analysis of Several Complex Variables that famously take a week or more each to "read".
And yes -- I subvocalize.
As an avid user of Firefox+Adblock I don't know what you are talking about, I don't see any ads at all.
I do see a lot of terrible fonts, colors, and typesetting though.
When you speed read you train your eyes to look over a wide area and you are able to read several lines at the same time and train the brain to make sense of it(use the subconscious to store-order the lines automatically).
So the best thing you could do is to control the formatting, so text is always the same size and always organized the same way, so if you force your brain to make sense of it, it does after time.
The best structure is newspaper-like text, lots of columns, small lines so your brain could make sense of entire sentences with just an eye shot.
It does not work with Hacker News, or most of the web by the way as each format is different and content is scrolled, with wide lines, not paginated.
It works really well when you could control the formatting, aka non DRM text you could interpret with your own software, but if you try to sell this software you will have problems when even blind people are not permitted to modify copyrighted text.
I read quite a few books about speed-reading when I was a university student in the early 1970s, putting the techniques to the test while taking courses in linguistics, foreign languages, history of technology, and Japanese literature in English translation. There are a number of good books about how to improve reading skills, with various levels of credulity about "speed-reading" claims. After my own research and experience, I have to agree with the paragraphs in the article submitted here based on more recent research:
"Ronald Carver, author of the 1990 book The Causes of High and Low Reading Achievement, is one researcher who has done extensive testing of readers and reading speed, and thoroughly examined the various speed reading techniques and the actual improvement likely to be gained. One notable test he did pitted four groups of the fastest readers he could find against each other. The groups consisted of champion speed readers, fast college readers, successful professionals whose jobs required a lot of reading, and students who had scored highest on speed reading tests. Carver found that of his superstars, none could read faster than 600 words per minute with more than 75% retention of information.
"Keith Rayner is a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and has studied this for a long time too. In fact, one of his papers is titled 'Eye movements in reading and information processing: 20 years of research,' and he published that in 1993. Rayner has found that 95% of college level readers test between 200 and 400 words per minute, with the average right around 300. Very few people can read faster than 400 words per minute, and any gain would likely come with an unacceptable loss of comprehension."
I figure that my comfortable, steady reading speed in materials on a wide variety of subjects at an upper-division undergraduate to graduate school level is about 500 words per minute, with good comprehension. I plainly don't need "tl;dr" summaries of articles submitted to HN as often as many HN participants ask for those. (To be sure, many HN participants read English as a second language, and we should admire people who come here to participate in a second language, something very few Americans could do in a non-English-language online community.) I definitely read more slowly and with less comprehension on the first pass in Chinese or in German, my two strongest languages for second-language reading, but I have read whole books in both of those languages for fun or for research. I have diminishing ability to read other languages that are mentioned in my user profile here.
tl;dr: Don't worry about fancy eye movements too much, and don't worry about subvocalization too much. Just read steadily and think about what you are reading while you are reading it for best memory of what you read and best comprehension of what the author was trying to say. Building up your vocabulary--by more reading, of course--is the best way to build up your reading speed.
AFTER EDIT: The claim in another subthread here is specifically WRONG that Chinese constitutes any kind of proof about subvocalization. I'm not committing to a position on whether or not subvocalization, as defined by throat muscle movements, always occurs in reading, but I know from the books Visible Speech by John DeFrancis (a scholar of Chinese)
and Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention by Stanislas Dehaene (a neuroscientist who does brain imaging studies)
and from my own study of four different Sinitic modern languages (Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, and Hakka) that all writing systems, properly so called, are systems for writing out speech. Writing is based on speech everywhere in the world and the Chinese writing system is full of clues that most written characters are based on the SOUND of spoken morphemes.
How you might write the conversation
"Does he know how to speak Mandarin?
"No, he doesn't."
in Modern Standard Chinese characters contrasts with how you would write
"Does he know how to speak Cantonese?
in the Chinese characters used to write Cantonese. As will readily appear even to readers who don't know Chinese characters, many more words than "Mandarin" and "Cantonese" differ between those sentences in Chinese characters.
I took a speed reading class back in the 80's, and it focused on these techniques. I gave up. I found that I was concentrating so much on trying to move my finger fast and not subvocalize that I lost focus on the activity at hand - reading.
I was an engineering major, and the techniques weren't practical for my academic reading. When reading fiction and non-academic work, it took the joy out of reading. What was the point of reading a novel fast if I didn't enjoy it.
For my academic reading, i did a little self analysis. I found my biggest hurdle to reading quickly with high comprehension was concentration. After 10-15 minutes my mind tended to wander. It's an endurance exercise, and my brain is no marathon runner. So instead of trying to block out an hour or two for reading, I would break it up into shorter stints and try to focus very hard.
It turns out this works out well for reading programming books. I do not want to read a full book front to back without going over to the computer and trying it myself. Otherwise, you end the book thinking you understand everything but realize that stuff way back in chapter 3 is a bit fuzzy.
Agreed. Personally, I think that if you don't subvocalize at least the dialogue in a novel, you're missing out.
I'm not sure I follow your claim that "all writing systems...are systems for writing out speech." I agree that "most written characters are based on the SOUND of spoken morphemes" but this isn't by itself proof of how written language is processed by the brain. Certainly ideographic cuneiform counts as writing just as much as modern english. As writing grew more complex we can see a shift in every culture that started out with ideographic representation to move to a system much more dependent on morphemes. But in every case, the shift is gradual and subsumes elements of the purely ideographic writing, proving that the early ideographic writing was seen as just as much a language as the newer script that includes phonetic elements. We do after all, use a language defined by phonetic features.
Do you have pointers to discussion of purely-ideographic language writing with no phonetic component?
This is true by definition, at least by the definition of a "writing system" commonly used by DeFrancis and others. For the Chinese system, it is true that the vast majority of written characters are based on sound, but there are also characters that are primarily semantic in construction (e.g. pictographic, at least in origins).
The more complicated (and somewhat philosophical) question is whether or not it make sense to call something a language (or writing system) that is not based on speech, or cannot be represented as speech. Symbolic logic, for example, includes a formally defined set of symbols that represent meaning in a consistent and intelligible way. How we discuss these sets of symbols is a very interesting topic (albeit rather distinct from the topic at hand).
> "Ronald Carver, author of the 1990 book The Causes of High and Low Reading Achievement, is one researcher who has done extensive testing of readers and reading speed, and thoroughly examined the various speed reading techniques and the actual improvement likely to be gained. One notable test he did pitted four groups of the fastest readers he could find against each other. The groups consisted of champion speed readers, fast college readers, successful professionals whose jobs required a lot of reading, and students who had scored highest on speed reading tests. Carver found that of his superstars, none could read faster than 600 words per minute with more than 75% retention of information.
I'm a bit surprised native English speakers wouldn't do significantly better -- perhaps I am a faster reader than I thought.
I normally don't read quite that fast though -- 600 words in 60 seconds definitively puts me in "skimming" territory.
I can read faster than that, and I've found some common "speed reading" techniques, like scanning a page diagonally to help -- but I only use that in order to gain an overview of text -- and decide if something looks interesting enough for a proper read through.
I don't think the technique matters much -- but like all things practicing helps -- After a year or so of frequently forcing myself to skim -- I can speed read faster than before -- but I don't know if my "proper" reading speed has advanced much.
I still often appreciate "TL;DR"-summaries -- they are usually a great indication of weather an article warrants whatever attention is needed to read it comprehensively -- and they are much easier to read than skimming a full article.
1) When I read fiction by good authors, I take great delight in reading their sentences, so I slow down drastically to take every word and piece of punctuation in.
2) Reading speed improves with practice.
3) Read smarter: if you don't need 100% comprehension then read topic sentences of paragraphs carefully then skim the rest of the paragraph for details you think are useful. And in news stories, they follow the "inverted pyramid" for paragraphs meaning that they're ordered such that the first paragraph is the most important, second one is second most important, etc. So you can stop reading at any time.
4) Choose a column width that suits you. A lot of time is spent on line transitions. Smaller columns makes this easier which you can control via your window size.
Perhaps PG could think about improving readability of the site.
Interesting, most speed reading techniques teach the opposite and condition you to move your fingers along the page.
Not a scam, scam more a motivational speaker/Eat less exercise more style scam. If you followed it through it would work but almost no one follows through hence the course/advice becomes bunk.
For instance one thing we were taught was to first skim the book/chapter really quick then read it 'properly'
Makes sense to me, but I never do it.
People do have different reading speed levels and I don't think it's all innate so I don't think it a crap idea.
I would agree that maybe the teaching is currently more based around customers and less about pedagogy though.
I remember reading an article that there were 3 types of readers.
Readers who sub-vocalize the words
Readers who "hear" the words
Readers who "see" words
Not sure if that's an accurate assessment, but I definitely don't sub-vocalize. If I sub-vocalized, I think would at least some general idea how to pronounce unusual character names from fantasy novels. I couldn't have even tried to pronounce most of the character names in Lord of the Rings, immediately after reading it but I could recognize the name patterns if I saw them.
When reading Crime and Punishment in school, I remember specifically saying, "I have no idea how to pronounce a whole bunch of stuff in here and I'm going to need to talk about it, so I'm going to specifically come up with a pronunciation." Without that conscious effort, I simply wouldn't have tried to vocalize the names whatsoever, despite that being my standard method of reading.
And to be clear, I can not sub-vocalize, but it's just... uncomfortable.
I have the exact same experience with character names -- that's a great example.
I do sub-vocalize though so I guess I'm a lost cause :)
Interestingly, the faster I read, the less I'm able to "filter" the information I read about, it seems almost as if my brain absorbs it directly. That means that I'd never speed read content that might contain bad memes or false information: political propaganda, religious texts, etc.
Does anyone know a good test for reading speed (including comprehension)?
When I read a novel, I tend to want to spend more time immersing in the world and the events in it. While I slow myself down in this case, I tend to make images in my head while reading and I've found that it becomes inherently harder to do if I'm subvocalizing... it removes focus from the imagination side of things for me. I don't really believe that it's impossible to read without subvocalization.
In any case, one of the tricks I use to speed read at a moderate speed (as opposed to skimming) is to black out mentally everything but the current line and process it as a whole. It works like imagining a rectangle enclosing the current line. Works wonders for me taking into account I'm the fastest reading person in my social circles.
speed reading can really be a game changer, I used to get bored of books myself, but when I can read faster the experience seem to be way more enjoyable!
As with "fancy eye movements" as some have claimed it - Whether they have much of a help, I'm not sure. Personally I generally read with my right eye, and my left eye tails a fraction of a second behind which generally helps pick up a few details I may have missed - But I notice I have trouble with this if a page's width is too large (HN has a fairly large width and I will read much faster if I make the window smaller). Anything more than that seems as if it would be fairly difficult - But I haven't read into the various techniques.
Can you learn to read at the crazy speeds mentioned in the article? Probably not. Speeding your reading up though seems definitely plausible - At least it seems to work for me, but I can't draw a very good conclusion from just myself in the sample.
The Bates Method emphasizes that one of the worst offenders to natural vision is staring, or the act of fixing a point and relying on peripheral vision to capture a much bigger area. Relearning to See is in big part about relearning to skip, like animals do, when they constantly move their eyes and heads to scan the environment or an object. And speedreading was at odds with this, because it emphasized you should fix your vision on some center point in the page and allow your peripheral vision to gobble up the surrounding text, and you need not even do it sequentially, you should get to the point where you "understand" the image of the page as a whole. That's the bill, anyway. So I opted for natural vision (and comprehension).
For me, 800 wpm was about the limit of how fast I could read while still understanding most of it. That's the '4x' setting. The '2x' setting is 400 wpm, which based on the article and my experience is a good target reading speed.
It's not entirely perfect because the rhythm imposed by the text-to-speech engine is not optimal for fast reading – it pauses when you don't need a pause and powers through complex sections, but I found it an interesting exercise nonetheless.
Lately I do most of my reading by listening to audiobooks. The last two books I read, I experimented with the 2x speed setting on the iPhone. It took a few minutes to get used to, but now I can't recommend it highly enough. Now I can get through audiobooks in half the time and I've totally adjusted to the butchered sound quality.
Common sense stuff: The author says that scientists say that reading without subvocalization is impossible. The fact that deaf people can read is extremely inconvenient for this theory. Seriously, man?
People can skim at faster rates than they can when reading with full comprehension, but then their comprehension will suffer. You can learn to skim, to take notes, to get quick overviews of whatever you're reading by noting things like chapter and section headings and by reading for the main ideas of sections and paragraphs.
These are all useful skills. But they are a far cry from being to read every single word in the text with full comprehension, and doing that at a significantly faster rate than normal. This latter achievement is something there is little or no evidence of.
Some would say this is impossible and unnecessary.
In RSVP the words or small groups of words are flashed in extremely fast succession without the need for the reader to move their eyes at all.
I use iRSVP on my iPhone to read books from my Calibre library and my reading speed has never been higher. It's not for everyone and requires a high degree of concentration, but it enables me to read and understand books much faster that I would have been able to otherwise.
Do you really use the iRSVP system? Can you speak to the problems or weaknesses in your experience?
My oldest son also reads shockingly fast. When I began watching him play videogames, he flipped through dialogue so fast I could not read it. I thought he was just skipping familiar parts. Nope. He just reads that fast. He has to slow down if he wants to include me.
1. Speed reading fiction is about as sensible as watching movies in fast forward.
2. Speed reading non-fiction will not lead to much formation of conceptual knowledge in your brain, and definitely not the sort of rich inter-connected learning that we probably read for in the first place.
3. Speed reading where you develop a sixth sense for which parts of, say, an academic paper you should slow down and read carefully could probably be a good thing.
In general, while I used to think there was some sort of prestige attached to how much / how fast you could read, I don't think that anymore. It's how 'deeply' you read that counts.
I know some people who read a book a day and I can't do it a week, and none of them need to advocate their reading speed.
They must read a few times faster I do, I think.
Does anybody here read new texts, with no skimming and a decent comprehension at 1000wpm?
Totally not an expert in this area, but I think everybody associates more than just the sound of the word - movement of lips, memories, and other senses are also involved. Deaf people can obviously acquire those 'subvocalisations' instead.
Deaf could find very useful to vocalize words as they could read peoples lips and faces based on those units.
Everybody read lips and faces subconsciously, there are famous illusions in witch people hear different sounds with the same sound file depending of the video of a mouth they watch:
I read about 30% faster than most people, but I have no idea if this is really why. Was anyone else a guinea pig? This was in Central NY in the 80's.
In other words, I find it hard to believe a claim that subvocalization is required across the board. At least, at an absolute level.
He's talking about seeing and hearing. According to psychology, humans have two sets of "short-term memorybuffers"; spatio-visual, and auditory. It is perfectly possible to do two tasks at once, as long as you use different "buffers". Like juggling and singing.
But to be able to comprehend text, it needs to go through the linguistic centre. It doesn't matter if it goes through the spatio-visual or auditory sensors. Subvocalization is created by the linguistic centre.
Simple words or numbers do not need to go through the linguistic centre. So it is perfectly possible to comprehend text and at the same time count if you "see"/"hear" text and "hear"/"see" counting. But you cannot comprehend two advanced texts at once.
And, my entire point was that reading is different to different people. So... it may well be that many folks can not speed read. Might even be the case that most speed readers are not as good as they believe. Still, to see the numbers in this, 600wpm with 75% retention sounds ridiculously fast and not too shabby on the retention. So... yeah?
It is rather well known that native language and (all) foreign languages are "stored" in separate parts of the brain (with some limited controversy over whether there exists "bilingual" people in a biological sense).
I wonder if that has an effect on how we read written text (other than that most people presumably read faster and with better comprehension in their native tongue).
read the table of contents,
then read the headlines through the book,
then speed read the book and then try to probe your comprehension, ask questions etc.
The table of contents and the probing is the most important. Teaches you recursive learning, when you first build a foundation then you fill out the details.
Another one is eye contact; I generally don't have a problem making eye contact during conversation, but if I start thinking about it, I become aware that I can only look at one eye at a time and, I get a similar feeling of anxiety and discomfort. I can't decide whether to focus on one eye, switch between them (and at what rate?), or stare past the person, "magic eye" style so they look like a triclops.
It can be both maddening and very useful. But more than anything it makes you realize how comfortable you are with those closest to you, because all that overlaid mapping and planning fades away into actual casual conversation.
Veering far off topic now though!
I personally never thought much of the guys giving the speedreading workshops, they seemed to be acting and came across like secondhand car dealers. Their claims of comprehension with over 1500 words / minute just sound insane. The techniques however are not all nonsense, and I do believe that I have learned to increase my reading speed from +/- 300 to around 500 words per minute.
The most important lesson they thought was 'guiding your eyes'. Our eyes are not that good in following a straight line by themselves, just try to stare straightforward, and make a perfect circle with your eyes: it will more likely be a pentagon or something. When we let our eyes follow our finger drawing a circle however, it is a lot easier. Applying this to reading, simply means using your finger or pen to follow each sentence on the paper. I find it a lot faster to read that way, but I still let myself subvocalize the sentences, for comprehension. Doing this on a 500-600 words/minute rate is a lot more exhausting though, and I only use it for academic articles or textbooks.
2) Don't fallback with your eyes, just re-read the entire sentence.
I can combine two lines I've read into a sentence while reading the next two lines. It helps when I'm in an exam, or when looking for something in a Website.
I heard of people who scan pages diagonally, which makes my envious :)
It's not possible for actually _reading_ stuff.
Which reminds me of the Woody Allen quote:
― "I speed-read "War and Peace". It's about Russia, right?".
Is reducing subvocalization beneficial? Is every single phrase and word important to subvocalize? Relevant questions completely ignored here.
Even skimmers subvocalize key words. This is detectable, even among speed readers who think they don't do it, by the placement of electromagnetic sensors on the throat which pick up the faint nerve impulses sent to the muscles. Our brains just don't seem to be able to completely divorce reading from speaking. NASA has even built systems to pick up these impulses, using them to browse the web or potentially even control a spacecraft. Chuck Jorgensen, who ran a team at NASA in 2004 developing this system, said:
"Biological signals arise when reading or speaking to oneself with or without actual lip or facial movement. A person using the subvocal system thinks of phrases and talks to himself so quietly, it cannot be heard, but the tongue and vocal chords do receive speech signals from the brain."