To become a fluent speed reader, you must break the habit of vocalizing, or hearing individual words in your head as you read. How you break the vocalization habit depends on how much you vocalize when you read. Try the following test to determine how much you vocalize.
Read this paragraph to yourself, not aloud. As you read, listen with your ears and also be aware of any movement or feeling in your lips, tongue, vocal cords, larynx (voice box), and throat.
Did you hear the lark singing in the square? I heard it. In fact, it woke me up. Why that little bird chooses to sing at night is a mystery. The lark sings in my dreams and sings when I’m awake. You can’t stop that bird from singing!
Did you detect any movement or feeling in your vocal apparatus when you read this paragraph? Did you hear the words? The degree to which you heard the words or felt movement in your lips and tongue determines how much you vocalize.
Reading educators distinguish between three types of vocalization. In order from most to least vocal, they are motor readers, auditory readers, and visual readers. Use the results of the preceding vocalization test to identify your reading type:
Motor reader: These readers tend to move their lips and may even mimic speech with their tongues and vocal cords when reading. Their reading range is very slow (150 to 200 words per minute) because they must read word-by-word at the rate they speak. These readers have poor comprehension due to their slow reading speed.
Auditory reader: These readers don’t engage their lips, tongue, or vocal cords when they read, but they do silently say and hear the words. They read in the 200 to 400 words-per-minute range. Auditory readers are skillful readers with vocabularies large enough that they can quickly recognize words.
Visual reader: These readers vocalize minimally or not at all. Visual readers engage their eyes and minds when they read, but not their mouths, throats, or ears. They can read many words at once because they read ideas, not individual words. They read at a rate of 400+ words per minute.
To be a speed reader, you must endeavor to be a visual reader.