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All of the knowledge you’ve gained from your reading and study remains in your brain, even though you might not keep those facts in your consciousness at all time. In many ways your brain is like a huge database, with millions of stored ideas and details and answers that wait to be retrieved or recalled when they’re needed. This recall doesn’t have to be like a computer command, though. One mistake people make while reading is thinking that they have to stop and make a specific and deliberate “request” to themselves to remember a word or its meaning, and this slows down their reading speed – or brings it to a complete stop.
Learning how to read through unfamiliar words is a skill that will help you to increase your reading speed. Many people think that in order to understand the meaning of a sentence, they need to know the exact definition of every word. In many cases, though, your comprehension of what the author is trying to communicate will not be greatly affected by the use of unfamiliar words, if the context of the phrase makes the overall sense of the sentences clear. Here’s an example:
Julianna ate a large spoonful of the porkolt and immediately reached for a glass of water. The dish was so fuszeres that her tongue felt scorched and drops of sweat rolled down her face.
Now, unless you speak Hungarian, there were at least two words in that passage that you didn’t know. However, you probably had a mental image of the scene, and perhaps a memory of being in the same situation, when you’d accidentally eaten something that was extremely hot or spicy. You didn’t need to know that porkolt is the word for “stew” and fuszeres means “spicy.” In fact, it could have just meant “hot” (as in temperature) and the sense of the passage would have been the same.
Your brain works behind the scenes, as it were, to fill in the missing meanings with information you have stored in your mental database. This allows you to skim over what you might think of as potholes in your personal information highway, so you don’t have to stop and fill each of them in in order to make progress.
Remember, the more you add to your personal database, the better able your brain will be in filling in these gaps as you read, and the faster your reading speed will increase. Read as much as you can, on a wide range of topics, and your stored knowledge will support you in your speed-reading goals.