Can being a proficient reader really help you succeed? Absolutely it can.
Reading is a skill we’re taught as children. It’s something we build as we grow older: our vocabularies expand, our proficiency increases, and we’re able to read bigger and more challenging texts.
However, often what happens after we leave school and enter the workforce is a gradual tapering off of our reading efficiency. We don’t necessarily get slower — we just don’t get any faster. This stagnation can really inhibit our reading potential.
A speed reading course is designed to give you that cognitive boost you need to become a quicker, more proficient reader.
Why speed up the rate at which you read? Well, we’re glad you asked.
Why Practice Speed Reading?
The average adult reads at an average rate of 300 words per minute. Does that sound like a sizable number? It certainly can’t contend with the 450 words the average university student can ingest, nor the staggering 575 words most high-level executives can process.
Do you know how many words you read per minute? If not, there are many online speed reading tests that offer to measure your rate for free. Once you know how many words you read per minute, you’ll have a better idea of how you measure up against the average reader.
Reading with greater speed and proficiency offers several tangible benefits.
First, when we can read and comprehend at a more efficient rate, we save time. This is huge! The benefit of time cannot be understated. If you’re able to do more in less time, you’re able to pursue more of what you love each and every day.
Next, being a competent reader strengthens the mind. Reading requires a complex network of neural pathways to speak and communicate with one another. The more we read, the stronger these pathways become, and the stronger the connections between them. Efficient reading has been linked to a stronger memory, and an increased ability to focus.
How Speed Reading Programs Work
So, you’re interested in becoming a more proficient reader by taking a speed reading course? Awesome!
Here’s how speed reading programs work:
1. Speed reading programs may be offered in-person or online
Depending on how you prefer to learn, you can opt to take a speed reading course in-person or online.
The benefit of taking a course in person is the hands-on guidance you’ll be able to receive from your instructor. The benefit of taking an online course is the ease and convenience of the available learning process.
Choose a speed reading course that you feel will best suit your individual needs and inherent strengths.
2. Speed reading programs assess and measure your progress
One of the foundations of any speed reading course is the careful and deliberate measure of your progress. How can you be sure the program is helping you if you don’t have perceptible results?
Many speed reading courses will first assess your baseline reading comprehension. You’ll learn how many words you read per minute, as well as how strong your reading comprehension is.
Reading comprehension is your ability to retain the information you’ve learned by reading. It’s not enough to simply skim through a paragraph of words as speedily as you can. Efficient reading is also about comprehension!
Over the course of the speed reading program, you can expect for both your words per minute and your reading comprehension to increase.
3. Speed reading programs teach you techniques to succeed
Reading proficiently is much more than simply plowing through a text as rapidly as you can.
A speed reading course will teach you practical and functional techniques you can implement on a day-to-day basis to help you increase your reading speed.
Not only will you learn valuable tips, tricks, and techniques, but you’ll be given ample time to practice them too. Many speed reading courses have small, simple exercises you perform in each lesson to enhance what you’ve learned.
By putting the lessons into immediate action, you’ll help facilitate the growth of your reading skills.
Free Online Speed Reading Courses
If you’re looking for some resources to help you practice your speed reading online, look no further! We’ve compiled a handy list of free online speed reading courses you can try.
Read Speeder – the speed reading course with 90,000 users
This course emphasizes the importance of reading whole phrases at a time, instead of isolating singular words.
You’ll get a taste of what true speed reading is like on Read Speeder’s homepage when you’re challenged to read at a rate of 600 words per minute. You may even surprise yourself when you realize it’s not as difficult to keep up as you might have imagined!
Their library includes over 500 practice books and they currently have over 90,000 registered users.
Legentas – practice speed reading in 7 languages
If you’re looking to hone your speed reading in Czech, Slovak, Russian, Bahasa Indonesia, Spanish, German, or the soon-to-be-added Portuguese, then this is the speed reading program for you.
Of course, they also offer free speed reading lessons in English, but their versatility of language options is impressive.
Signing up will net you a reading speed test, three training lessons, and a tool chest of efficient reading tips.
Spreeder – the free speed reading course for iOS
Sadly, for Android users, you’ll have to wait for this handy app to roll out across all platforms. Currently, it’s only available for iOS.
Spreeder is a speed reading course and social media sharing platform all in one. Install this app on your phone to gain access to on-the-go speed reading exercises. Track your progress and share it with friends.
Practice Speed Reading at Home
If you don’t want to sign up for a speed reading course, you can always employ some reading tips and tricks from the comfort of your home, or wherever else you enjoy reading the most.
Here are a few ways you can practice speed reading on your own:
1. Review before you read
It’s much easier to understand and digest what you’re about to read when you actually know what the text is about.
If we’re attempting to understand a new concept or idea, and we have no background or prior knowledge available to assist us with comprehension, things can get challenging — fast.
Take a moment to review what you’re about to read before you begin. It will help you soak up the knowledge contained within.
2. Break poor reading habits
Two habits many readers possess that slow down their reading speed are subvocalization and reading word-by-word.
Subvocalization is the silent pronunciation of each word in your head as you’re reading. Reading word-by-word is the act of deliberately reading each and every word on the page.
Neither of these habits is necessary in order to be a proficient reader.
You can speed up your reading by chunking together phrases or ideas in a sentence. Oftentimes, we can eliminate small words like, “the”, “and”, or “is.”
See if you can read by moving from idea to idea, as opposed to moving from word to word.
3. Soften your gaze when you read
The eye is capable of moving quite a rapid distance in a short period of time. Many readers don’t fully utilize the efficiency of their eyes when they read, often as a result of focusing on only one word at a time.
The next time you read, try softening your gaze a little. Relax your forehead, ease your jaw, and allow your vision to gently soften. You’ll expand your field of vision to be able to see longer chunks of words at once, increasing your ability to read quickly and proficiently!
Here are a couple more awesome speed reading tips from brain coach Jim Kwik to rapidly help you along your speed reading journey: