Previously we looked at the gliding technique and how we can force ourselves to keep reading quicker by covering up what we just read. This can be scary at first as you there is a strong temptation to go back and re-read a section to make sure you fully understand it, but with practice, you will realize you don’t need to do this.
In our penultimate lesson, we will go a step further as, not only do we not need to re-read sentences, but we also don’t need to read every word in a sentence!
You may be wondering how this can be possible. Surely to understand a piece of text you need to read every word?
Well, yes and no.
There are two ways of reading. The main way that most people use is by “fixating” on nearly every individual word, but this is a very slow way to read. We briefly mentioned fixations back in Lesson 1 as one of the bad habits to be removed but to recap, a fixation is where you rest your eyes on a line. Many people stop and read virtually every word in a line, which tires your eyes out and is a very slow way to read.
If you read like this, you are not maximizing what our eyes can do and you are operating at a suboptimal level. Even if you implement the gliding technique and everything else you’ve learned from this course, you won’t be able to reach the next level of speed reading without learning to minimize the number of fixations per line.
The trick is to use your peripheral vision.
Think about how much you can see around you. You can see what is in front of you, but your field of vision expands much further than one central point. We need to utilize this in our reading to get even faster.
We can afford to only “read” a few words on each line and “skip” others because our peripheral vision should be able to fill in the gaps. We aren’t ignoring these words, we’re just not focusing on them individually and allowing our peripheral vision to read them for us.
A good way to practice is by “missing” the first and last words on each line. Make a concerted effort to start reading from the second word on a line and stop at the second to last word, and you will realize that you can see these words even though you’re not intentionally focusing on them!
How much time will this save? Well, say there are 25 lines on a page and you miss the first and last words, that’s 50 words that you’re not reading! This will soon add up over time and you will find yourself speeding through the text.
Of course, as you practice, you can start “missing” even more words to increase your speed even further.
If you want to escape from reading for a bit but still get some practice in, why not try juggling? Juggling is all about utilizing your peripheral vision as you need to see the whole situation and not just focus on one ball or hand. If you can juggle three or more balls, then you can certainly see and understand more than one word at a time!
These last few lessons have covered the most important aspects of speed reading and it’s these techniques that will help you to really increase your reading speed. Next time we will go over the key points from this course and show you how you can start speed reading every day.
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