When was the last time you used something you learned in school? What was the value of all the days you studied Shakespeare, algebra and grammar?
Two of us were lawyers, another a CPA, and the fourth a successful chemical engineer. Childhood friends, we laughed over coffee about the benefits of school that were practical to their lives. Not.
The consensus was we learned more in commercial Bar and CPA review programs than classroom teaching. Clarence the Exxon engineer, said his company training classes taught him 80% of what he used daily.
Bob the richest of us, said law was his introduction to the marketing business and trading currency for fun and profit.
I contributed that everything I ever learned about reading in school, the most basic of skills, was totally useless. It was speed reading that opened my eyes to how to learn and the strategies of auto-didactics (self teaching).
Another secret I never learned in school was the power of asking specific questions of the material and searching out the answers. Memory, mnemonics (memory aids) ended with One-Two, Button Your Shoe.
Only after school did I discover memory was the heart of learning and the easy strategies to become a master of reading and remembering.
Four Secrets to Reading Failure
a) Snailers, (students, college graduates and executives) still read using their 3rd grade skills of one-word-at-a-time. Boring.
b) They are unaware they regress (stop and reread) up to ten times per page. It slows them to the pace of a sloth crossing the road.
c) Most are unfamiliar with the word, but they Subvocalize, mentally see-and-hear each and every word they read. It slows them to a snail.
d) Porous Concentration: fifteen minutes after they finish reading a book, article or report, snailers suffer from amnesia of the details.
Subvocalization Dies Here
Some experts suggest the most bizarre methods to reduce or eliminate mentally hearing each word you read and no one points at their head making a corkscrew motion.
a) Hum a lot while you read.
b) Mentally repeat a single word while reading to overcome
subvocalization. One suggest hearing the word Sexy was the secret.
b) Singing Happy Birthday was one serious solution that does not
If you increase your ordinary reading speed from 200 words per minute with 70% comprehension to above 500 words per minute, subvocalization is reduced up to 66% because you do not have the time or skill to sound-out each word at the new speed.
How do you do that?
We use a fancy word to describe it, Chunking is grouping and reading about three-words with each eye-fixation movement you take. I talked to a reading specialist who called it Gulping, taking in a bunch of words simultaneously.
Here is a three-word sentence to train on.
Strategies produce superstars.
1. Focus on the S in strategies. You are using a V-I-N, visual-internal-narrow focus to read. 2. Now concentrate on the whole-word, Strategies. Is that easy?
3. Finally, place your attention on all three-words in a single-chunk.
Be aware of the entire three-word sentence, Strategies produce superstars.
It is baby-easy, right? You have taken the first-step in tripling your reading speed and reducing subvocalization by 2/3.
How Did You Do That?
You widened your vision using your peripheral-vision. It is automatic, like choosing to go to the refrigerator to get an apple or putting the pedal to the metal from 40 to 60 mph. You just think it and the message goes from your brain to the right muscles for action. A lizard sees its entire environment with peripheral-vision. Go Lizard.
Snailers read in a three-step sequence: See-Hear-Understand. Speed readers just use See-Understand, meaning eyes (optic nerve) to your brain. Specifically, the structures of your brain that decode and comprehend meaning.
They are called the Brocas and Wernickes Areas of your brain . When you lose the hearing step of subvocalization, mentally hearing the words you read is reduced or eliminated. You triple your reading speed and improve your comprehension.
We call it V-I-B, (Visual, Internal, Broad focus) because you switch to peripheral-vision to chunk groups of words in the sentences, compared to V-I-N (Visual, Internal, Narrow), one-word-at-a-time snailing.
The difference in using the correct Eye Movement Restructuring (Broad) gives you the competitive advantage and moves you to the Fast-Lane at both schoolyou’re your career.
Summarize what you just learned to slot it into long-term memory.
Right. When you stop reading one-word-at-a-time, and chunk three-words at once, you defeat subvocalization and triple your reading speed with better comprehension because of your intense attention to the context of the material you read.
Can you read faster than 3x?
Sure, but it requires better strategies and the use of your Vestibulo-Ocular-Reflex also know as Fresh-Pursuit Tracking. Speed reading overcomes subvocalization and turns your kid or you into a brilliant star in learning. Is that important to you?
copyright © 2007
H. Bernard Wechsler
Author of Speed Learning for Professionals, published by Barron's; partner of Evelyn Wood, creator of speed reading, graduating two million, including the White House staffs of four U. S. Presidents.
Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and fortune Magazine for major articles.