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How to Stop Vocalizing and Become a Speed Reader

Part of the Speed Reading For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Stopping yourself from vocalizing is an essential first step to becoming a speed reader. Vocalizing is hearing words as you read — you may even move your lips and quietly pronounce each word. If you're saying or hearing every word, you're reading at the speed you talk, not at the speed you think. Use these tips to kick your vocalization habit to the curb:

  • Read for meaning rather than sound. Reading without vocalizing has a lot in common with listening to someone speak. When someone speaks, you hear the words, but you only hear them in connection with whatever thoughts and ideas the speaker is trying to convey. The same is true of reading without vocalizing: You read words for meaning, not sound. You see the word on the page and respond to its meaning without the intermediary step of hearing the word's sound. You don't read the words as words — you read units of meaning (like ideas, thoughts, and descriptions) whose building blocks happen to be words.

  • Stop your vocalization motor, To prevent your lips from moving when you read and disengage your vocal system, try putting your mouth to work at something besides reading. Chew gum, or, if your lip movements are especially pronounced, place a pencil or pen between your lips as you read.

  • Silence your inner reading voice. Some techniques to try for training yourself to read without hearing your inner reading voice:

    • Try to perceive the words rather than see them. Imagine that each word is a symbol (not a sound) that conveys a meaning.

    • Turn off your ears. Pretend your ears have a volume control and turn it to the mute setting.

    • Widen your field of vision. By taking in more words on a line, you force yourself to read more words at a time, and this helps prevent vocalization.

    • Identify the thought units in sentences, not the words, and read thought unit by thought unit rather than word by word.

    • Concentrate harder when you read. Much of being a speed reader comes down to concentrating harder than you used to.

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