Many children are taught to read with the instruction to “sound out the word” that they see. When given the word DOG, they’re often encouraged to treat each individual letter separately before putting them together, and first learn to say DUH-AW-GUH. If this becomes an ingrained habit, they may slow themselves down as adults by sounding out syllables and subvocalizing the words they read. This is one of the unhelpful habits the 7 Speed Reading program will help you break.
Unhelpful Habit #2: Subvocalization
When we’re very young, we’re encouraged to sound out each letter and word, so we formed the habit of speaking the words out loud as we read them. Then as we got to be better readers, most of us lost the habit of saying the words out loud (vocalizing), but might still move our lips as we read (subvocalizing). Furthermore, even if we don’t do physically more our lips, we may “sound out” the words in our mind as we read. To improve your reading speed, you need to practice eliminating all of these aspects of subvocalization from your general reading style, because it’s just slowing you down.
The fix: Learn to widen your visual field to take in more than one word at a time. It’s impossible to say three or five words at once out loud, but it’s not impossible for your eyes to take the same number of words in, and for your visual cortex to process them.
If you find that you still have the tendency to say the words out loud or in your head, try occupying your verbal “processors” with something else, by humming to yourself while you read. Don’t try to pick a tune, or sing words – you want your mind to focus on the words you’re reading, not the ones you’re singing – but keep a constant sound going and see if that drowns out your mind’s tendency to subvocalize. If you can no longer “hear” the words you’re reading, you’ll forget that you used to connect the spoken words to the written ones.
In the next post: How to stop reading word for word.