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    So You Want to Read Faster!

    If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself.
    If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself.
    Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.

    — From the Hua Hu Ching of Lao Tzu[1]

    Do you really want to read faster?

    I call this skill "reading range" but others call it speed reading, rapid reading, sight reading, or photo reading.

    I don't think so! Some things, like poetry, need to be read very slowly—even out loud so you can appreciate every facet of its beauty!

    Some materials have so much detail in them, that if you read through them too quickly you may become dangerous. A little knowledge, without a context to evaluate it in, may lead you to making serious errors in judgment. Incomplete knowledge is like being a bull in a china shop. You do not understand the implications of moving in one direction or another, and in all likelihood will "break something" no matter what direction you move in. When you "read" something you want to understand it and remember it over time. If you do not use pre-reading techniques before you start to "read" you will not have a meaningful way to store and retrieve the information in your short and long-term memory banks as you "read". By skipping the pre-reading process, the sign to the right will be your reality (hover over the image for more information). To "read" faster you must use pre-reading skills to clarify what level of detail you need/want.

    With some materials you might read part way through them, only to find there was nothing of value for you in the information and you were wasting your time reading it in the first place. You will be left wondering why you bothered picking those materials up! By using a sampling/surveying skill before you start reading your newspaper, magazine, e-book, article, novel, book, textbook, etc. you will save yourself hours of time—time you can invest in reading something of value and importance to you.

    With other materials you may feel you want to read them more quickly but are afraid if you do, you feel you will miss important information. This happens a lot, just after you graduate from High School. For twelve (12) years you have had teachers and government curriculum dictating the relative importance of information. Now you need to be the keeper of your own comprehension, you must take full ownership and responsibility for what you "get" or "do not get" from everything you read, and that scares most High School graduates. They are ill prepared to be responsible for determining what is, is not, important to understand and remember.

    So what you need is not to read faster (to speed read, to photo read, to sight read, or to rapid read), but to learn how to adapt your reading speed to the materials you read. You want to develop a variety of skills to use before, during, and after your "reading" so you can identify things that are important to you. It does not matter what you are reading: newspapers, magazines, e-books, articles, novels, books, textbooks, etc. You need to be ready to adjust your reading speed to get the comprehension and long term retention that you need from anything you read. You need to be flexible and adjust your approach to get what you desire from whatever you read. You need to eliminate your static; one speed fits all approach to the printer and/or electronic page, and develop a large and effective reading range! Like the "bookworm" to the left (hover for more information), with a large, effective reading range you will be able to borough your way through a plethora of materials, devouring huge amounts of personally meaningful information in very short time intervals.

    Why would you want to develop a reading range?

    If you have read and understood the reasoning so far, the answer is obvious. So obvious you are saying "Duh" to yourself, right now. There is a more compelling reason though!

    We are now solidly in the information age. Knowledge is power! Members of society will seek you out like a heat seeking missile if they know you are a source for answers to their questions. World knowledge is increasing at geometric rates of speed. In the 1940's knowledge doubled every ten years. By the 1980's knowledge was doubling every two years. Today it doubles every three months! That means if you want to be able to maintain your expertise in any given area, you must learn to be flexible and make ongoing processing decisions as you read, understand, and organize information for future use. You need to make ever changing reading processing decisions so you can get what you need in the shortest time interval possible. Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, in the quotation to the right, succinctly summed it up—doing something is far better than no action at all. Let's move from the "wrong thing" to the "right thing" and eliminate doing "nothing".

    If you broaden your knowledge base by taking additional education courses after high school, you will be required to do increasing amounts of reading in textbooks, and on-line, using the internet. If you enter any profession, reading will be a daily requirement. If you take up any trade, excellent reading skills will be needed to process memos, read training manuals, etc. If all you do is work at the most menial of jobs, your chances for advancement will be accelerated if you take the initiative to learn how to do all aspects of the job by reading through company manuals. Burying your head in the sand, like an ostrich that wants to hide—I cannot see you so you cannot see me—will not work. If you believe when you graduate from high school your need to read will decrease, brace yourself for a rude awakening!

    Does that mean you are going to read everything quickly?

    Of course not! What you need to do is develop an effective reading range so you can read fast or slow, depending on what you are reading, why you are reading it, what you want from it, and the density/concentration of the ideas in the information. The more technical the information is, the higher the density/concentration of the ideas.

    And, you want the necessary set of tools at your disposal so you can quickly and easily determine the approach you are going to use on whatever the information is at hand.

    Brain research is suggesting that the human brain is capable of processing information at a much more rapid rate than was previously thought. Processing speeds over 25,000 words per minute are now considered to be in the realm of possibility. Developing the skill of an effective reading range will allow you to start using this potential. Reading everything at the speed of sound does not cut it anymore! When we read, we need to find a way to develop connections between the Temporal and Occipital Lobes of our brain to process information. We use the Temporal Lobe of our brain to process information taken in by sound. We use the Occipital Lobe of our brain to process information taken in by sight. We know when we look at visual media like pictures, TV, and movies/DVD's, our brain already has developed some connections between the Temporal and Occipital Lobes because we processes information from these sources as quickly as we see it.

    What we need to do is develop brain connections between the Temporal and Occipital Lobes so our brain will translate "words, sentences, paragraphs, pages, etc." into visual images so we can increase our brain capacity. Instead of limiting our reading to the processing of sound messages, we must teach it to expand and process the printed page visually.

    Is developing new brain connections possible?

    It certainly is! Here is how a TV newsperson does it. TV announcers read the news from an electronic device called a prompter. A prompter is a device that allows a newsperson to read the news while looking directly at the camera.

    When the newsperson is reading the news, they do not make very many mistakes because they have learned to use their brains to "read ahead and speak behind" what appears on the prompter[2]. You can clearly identify those that have developed this skill because they make very few errors. Have you ever noticed how, on occasion, the announcer has a smile on their face—sometimes they even laugh with no apparent reason? I am told this is because the person that inputs the data into the prompter has tried to slip something into the prompter script to embarrass the newsperson, and the newsperson caught it before they said it out loud.

    If a newsperson can teach their brain to develop different neuropath way connections, so can you!

    We know, so far, we want to develop an effective reading range and start developing different neuropath ways in the brain. Before we do that, we need to examine how you learned to read. This will help us understand the reading process and will enable us to maximize our reading potential.

    Where Do Your Present Reading Habits Come From?

    Go back in time! . . . . Before you could read! . . . . You are crawling and occasionally walking to explore your world and discovering hundreds of new things every day. You are learning to communicate verbally through the significant others in your life—your mom, dad, brother(s), sister(s), etc. You are realizing there is some sort of connection between the words you use and written language and you have become familiar with the letters of the alphabet. As you first started to read, the sound process became your primary learning vehicle. You would see the letter of the alphabet and then say it out loud. You might even remember the alphabet song you learned as you were learning the letters of the alphabet:

    "A, B, C, D, E, F, G, . . . . H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, . . . . Q, R, S, T, U and V, . . . . W, X, . . . Y, and Z. Now I know my ABC's, 26 letters from A to Z."

     

    As you were learning the alphabet, you saw letters, when grouped in a certain order, gave names to objects and you went around calling every object by the word you now associated to it. In no time at all you started putting the words into complete thoughts—sentences. Before long you were creating paragraphs—paragraphs became chapters, and chapters became books.

    As you learned to read, the people you learned from would have you say letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and books out loud to ensure you had everything correct. Gradually, over time, you were told to stop saying the words out loud and to start saying them to yourself. Before long you had developed the habit of sub-vocalization—saying the words in your head you were reading. You also began to unconsciously set limits on how fast you could read—most people speak between 200 and 350 words per minute, with occasional bursts up to 400 words per minute, so because you could not speak and hear the words any faster in your brain, your speed of processing words was limited to your speed of speech. Somehow, in your mind, you developed the notion you would not comprehend/remember what you read, if you went faster than you could speak. This self-limiting belief is part of your own B/S, your personal Belief System[3]. It is your internal map of reality, and becomes part of your reading Comfort Zone[4]. (CZ) You have a comfort zone in all areas of your life. You will make the most progress if you regard the comfort zone as the starting point for growth. By accepting this principal as part of your belief system, you will find it easier to adapt and adjust to the only constant in life—change. As you start doing things differently, making small changes in the way you do things, your comfort zone starts expanding. You become more comfortable with the different approach. As long as you make fairly small, insignificant changes you expand the comfort zone into the Learning Zone. When you go all out and make huge changes our natural resistance to change moves us into the Anxiety Zone.

    Unfortunately, if you do not have a positive approach to change, your Belief System (B/S) will result in self-limiting barriers to growth. If you believe you can, you will! If you believe it is not possible for you, it will not be possible! Your mind will not make a liar out of you!

    If all you have to do is change your approach, to start approaching reading differently, why do you not read faster already? In all likelihood, you tried making the changes too quickly, and consistently pushed yourself into the anxiety zone. As human beings we naturally make every attempt to avoid the "pain" of anxiety so we learned not to even try changing our reading approach. That is certainly understandable—from an early age we get bombarded with a barrage of "no's". Research says that for every "Yes" of encouragement, we get over twenty no's of discouragement. The "Stop that!", "Don't do that!" phrases are incessant. It is a miracle we keep on trying at all.

    So, let's examine the reasons why our reading skills did not evolve.

    Why did your reading skills not evolve?

    Three things are clear: your mind does not make the connection between looking at pictures and reading words, your mind does not see the pictures—reading connection because you are familiar with the construction of the language, and your mind is capable of processing words visually. When you looked at pictures you were "sight reading"—when you looked at words you were "sound reading". Your lack of knowledge about connecting the two limited your ability to become a sight reader. You now know this to be true because when you tried to verbalize what you saw, it took a considerable amount of time to express what visually registered instantly into words. Authors are beginning to recognize this reality and are increasing the publications of graphic novels—books that are "written" with pictures and words. Justin Bieber: Fame is just one example of the thousands of graphic novels now available. Graphic novels will have a huge impact in changing individual reading belief systems. As more of them become movies—like Hugo, based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, more people will make the connection—you do not have to process words by sound to get meaning—they can be processed visually. As graphic novels become more accepted, old reading habits will evolve, preconceived perceptions about the reading process will change, and reading will evolve from a sound to a sight/sound processing of information. Sound will no longer be the primary source of words from a page.

    The more you read, the better you got at it. Before long you settled into a routine—your comfort zone for reading. If you are like most people, you are reading and understanding what you read, at a very narrow reading range—from 200 – 300 words per minute. You may have brief periods where you hit close to 450 words per minute or so—professional speakers consider this to be the maximum rate of speaking with audience understanding—but for the most part you will read everything within this range.

    If you go slower than 200 words per minute you get bored and distracted by things around you—you may even take a "cat nap". If you go faster, your belief system (B/S) tells you that you will not understand what you reading and so you will slow down again so you will not be out of sync with your belief system. Some do not read enough, and become lips readers—having to move their mouths and lips, saying the words out-loud in order to understand what they are reading. Reading becomes a real task for them because they invariably fall asleep while reading. This is because they are not recognizing the message their brain is communicating to them—"I can process one hundred times more information than you are giving me—you keep feeding it to me at such a slow rate that I am bored and would rather go to sleep." Being easily distracted, daydreaming about other things while you read, forgetting where you are at—having to reread information, and falling to sleep are undeniable messages from the brain that should never go unanswered. Instead, these messages should be "whacks on the side of your head[5]" to wake you up to this reality—you are not even scratching the surface of your potential the way you currently process information on the printed page. They should be "light bulb" moments where you recognize you must take ownership of your comprehension by reading according to your purpose—not the purpose(s) of your teacher. When you graduate from high school you need to take ownership of, and responsibility for, your own understanding. You need to develop a flexible reading range instead of settling for a static reading speed. Will you? Have you?

    Over the years, reading became firmly entrenched in your mind as a sound process. You embraced the belief that in order to understand what you read you have to say it to yourself, in your mind. As part of this belief system you also adopted the self-limiting belief that if you read too fast, you would not understand what you read. Clearly you recognized the reality that we are in the information age but, you continued to read and process information as if we were still in the horse and buggy age.

    Not only did your reading become firmly entrenched as a sound process, your eyes habitually used only the central vision as you were reading. When you looked at pictures/viewed movies your eyes habitually took in information using the perifovea area and peripheral areas, adding an extra dimension in the processing of vast amounts of visual data from movies and pictures. Our habits made reading a sound process—watching movies and looking at pictures became a sight process.

    Clearly then, our self-limiting beliefs about the reading process did not allow most of us to develop the same sound/visual connection for reading. Instead, habits developed that would narrow visual focus on the printed page so you would see only one-word-at-a-time, instead of large groups of words. Little did we realize this belief was going to dictate our approach to processing information from the printed page. These self-limiting beliefs are so powerful that they create a mental brick wall in our brains stopping us from progressing.

    Is This Belief System True? Is Reading A Sound Process?

    No! When you look at a picture do you see it in words? Of course not! You can translate the picture into words, but it forms an image, a picture, in your mind—it is not a series of sounds. Translating the picture into words would take a lot of words, and would be a waste of time if you wanted to remember and record the information as an image. Have you ever heard the adage: "A picture is worth a thousand words.[6]"? Perhaps what you have just read is the source of this expression.

    Some would say if reading could become a sight process, it may be limited because as you focus on larger and larger pieces of information they get fuzzier and fuzzier—less and less in focus—like when the pictures created by a camera are enlarged. This would be true if your brain and eyes were not able to adjust to visual images. You know your brain can record even the smallest of details in a picture when you are explaining what you saw to someone.

    Eye tracking[7] studies show when you learn to read you also learn to limit the focus of your eyes so when you read, your eyes are focusing on a very small area. This means your vision becomes restricted to the individual words. The same eye camera studies show when you look at pictures, your vision treats the data in a different fashion and allows you to see and process the entire picture. You know this to be true because when you ask yourself what you just saw you can describe it in vivid detail, using a plethora of words, all of the elements of the picture you observed. The same does not hold true when you ask someone to remember what they just read. They have far more difficulty paraphrasing all the details of what they read.

    Eye camera studies have found this to be true even when you would see pictures for only fractions of a second. It is reasonable then to understand that naturally fast readers learn to see groups of words, whole paragraphs, even whole pages, with each and every eye fixation18 on the printed page. The image to the left shows an example of fixations and saccades[8] over text in a foreign language. This is the pattern of eye movement by a disciplined reader during reading. This person probably has a very diverse reading range because he/she has excellent control over his/her eye movements. It is unusual to see the eyes moving this smoothly over stationary text.

    The ultimate in vision would be to have a photographic mind—to see whole pages at once and be able to recall all of the information on every page of information you see. There are persons that can do just that. Not only can they see whole pages at a time, but they can also tell you which page, paragraph, even the line to look for to find the information you are seeking.

    By reading this far into the article you have ten times the knowledge that you had before you started the article. Knowledge is power. Knowledge also enhances ability. If you continue to read and follow the suggestions in this article you may find yourself developing a photographic mind too! The more I researched the reading process, the more I was convinced that everyone, given the correct nurturing and skill development has the ability to develop a photographic mind. Remember the expression—practice makes perfect. It doesn't—it makes permanent. Only correct practice makes perfect.

    So what you want to do is become a sight reader—instead of seeing one word at a time you want to develop the ability to see phrases, then whole sentences/paragraphs/pages of information. You want to learn how to take snapshots of larger and larger groups of words. You do not want to limit the processing of information. You do not want to be wearing "blinders" like the horse to the right, you want to have the "blinders" completely removed so you can maximize your vision potential. With training and persistence, it is possible for you to develop a photographic mind and be able to see and understand the ideas and concepts on full pages of information, with each eye fixation. You are familiar with the English language and its structure, so your brain will sort out the information—even if the letters inside a word are in a jumbled order. If you do not believe this is possible, read the bold faced lines that follow:

    The pewor of the hamun barin[9]

    I cdnouolt blveiee taht I cluod aulacity uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.

    The phaonmneal pweor of the hamun mnid, aoccdrnig to rsscheeear at Uineervtisis anruod the wlrod, say it deosn't mttaer in waht oedrr the ltteers are in a wrod, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.

    The rset can be a taotl mses and you can slitl raed it wouthit a porbelm.

    Tihs is bcuseae the haumn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

    Amzanig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt.

    As studies around the world are pointing out, your brain will make sense of basic information in any language, even when the first and last letters of each word are the only letters in the correct position. You may have had to momentarily slow down and look at individual words to make complete sense of this information, but your brain did sort it out. Your brain uses the context cues and your familiarity with the language to make sense of what you are reading. There are limitations—sentences with large numbers of long words are not easily understood—but it is nonetheless a phenomenon that merits more consideration since the majority of written communications in any language use shorter words. Consider this as a wake-up call—a "whack on the side of the head" that gets us to think about using more of our brain capacity. Start doing this, start removing your "mental blinders", start breaking down your "brick walls"—the psychological barriers that every one of us inadvertently creates. When you do this it is almost like punching a hole in your "brick wall"—just like the hole in the brick wall to the left.

    How did your brain sort out the jumbled mess of words in bold print on the top of this page? Every language has structure, and, over time, that structure becomes part of you. You use it every day. It becomes something you do without thinking. You apply its principles of structure to your oral and verbal communications, subconsciously. When this happens your brain will automatically adjust—even without you being consciously aware it is adjusting—and make sense of everything you see in that language.

    Your brain will even make sense of sentences when the words are out of order. The following bolded sentence is commonly used by many computer typing tutor programs in the teaching of keyboarding. It is designed to test key stroking techniques—it has every letter of the alphabet in it. Read it, as it appears below, with the words out of order, and let your brain sort it out:

    The   fox   over   quick   brown   lazy   jumped   the   dogs.

    It may have taken more than one reading, but your brain still managed to sort out the sentence and put the words into an order that made sense. It's like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. The distinct shapes of the pieces, and the pictures on them, helps your brain fit them together. In the sentence above, your brain understands the picture the words make and it places the words in the correct order.

    Your brain uses the sentences before and after this jumbled sentence to get it make sense. Initially your brain may have thought that the word "brown" belonged in frontof the word "dogs", instead of in front of "fox". As your brain accessed more and more of your memory banks it also placed the word "brown", and the rest of the words in this, the most logical position: "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs."—Your stored memories told it that all dogs are not brown, but most foxes are shades of brown. You may have even remembered this phrase from our earlier typing tutor days.

    Not only will your brain make sense if you receive information out of order, but it will also make sense of things if they happen to have spelling errors in them. Again, it's like putting the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. The distinct shapes of the pieces and the picture on the cover of the puzzle box helps your brain fit them together.

    The following sentence will further illustrate that point:

    Yur brn wl mke snse of inrmtn evn if almst evry wrd is msspld.

    So, it is tulry aznaimg what the human mind is clabpae of poesrncsig when it is freocd to mkea snsee out of words with olny the frsit and lsat ltetres in the croerct oedrr, wehn wdros are out of oderr, or wehn wrdos are mlspileesd.

    When you are familiar with the structure of the language, your mind will sort out the information, and make sense of it, when it is given the time and the opportunity to do so.

    And you do not even need to see the whole word clearly to make sense of it. To demonstrate this for yourself take a sheet of paper and, using the long edge of the page, cover up the bottom half of the words in the next line and then read that line. You have just proved to yourself that even if you only see only the top half of the words, you can still understand what the words/sentence means. It also demonstrates to you that you get meaning from the top half—the peaks and valleys—of the words. This fact has enabled me to teach people that had vision in the past but are now legally blind—they only see fuzzy images—to "read" more quickly.

    So what you need to do, is to learn how to become a sight reader. Before you receive the tools to do this let us take a closer look at your belief system.

    Your Belief System (Your B/S)

    Where does you belief system come from? As you see in the diagram to the right your belief system is like the roots of a tree. Your belief system feeds your trunk of attitudes and feelings, the feelings branch out into actions and the actions lead to the limbs of outcomes. Now look at the diagram below with various sizes of ovals. In this diagram your belief systems are on the right side of the diagram. This means your belief systems, the roots of the tree, vary in quantity, numbers, and size—depending on your emphasis on the social, spiritual, physical, intellectual and emotional/psychological components of your life. These five life dimensional components have evolved from your habits, and your habits originate from your thoughts. And, it does not end there!

    Your thoughts have been influenced internally, consciously and subconsciously. Your conscious thoughts through your senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound, your subconscious thoughts from ingrained patterns of behavior that have evolved, over time, from your numerous static and evolving belief systems.

    The external influences on your thoughts are a product of your environment—the weather and the climate, and the location/resources of the country you are a part of—and the societies you have various memberships in.

    It is essential to acknowledge your belief system. If you do not do this, you will never be able to make significant and lasting changes—to do things differently, permanently. Your belief system (your B/S) evolves over time. It is very difficult to eliminate or remove your beliefs, but you can easily replace any beliefs that are not serving you anymore. How? By becoming accustomed to making little changes—tweaking—the things we do, we do not regard it as being such a big deal to make minor modifications to what we do, but resist making huge, dramatic, life altering changes.

    And another thing about beliefs—if you do not believe you can do something—you will not be able to do it! To put it another way, if you believe something is possible, it will happen, given time—if you believe it is not possible—it will never happen. Your brain is your best ally—it is out to protect you at all costs. If you believe you cannot do something, your brain will sabotage any possible effort you make to change and will keep you doing more of the same until you believe it is possible to change.

    In other words, if you believe something is possible, it is—if you believe it is not, it is not!

    I am certain that at some point in your life someone has tried to persuade you to do something you knew was wrong for you, and you didn't do it. You resisted because of this fundamental belief: "Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still"[10]. Just like the person in Figure 2028 to the left, no amount of pushing, pleading, or cajoling is going to get you to budge.

    So how do you make changes in your belief system? Human beings seem to have a built in resistance to undergoing change of any sort in every area of their life. How can you learn to embrace instead of resist change? An examination of a change model will assist in that understanding.

    Change Model

    Notice how the change model completes the earlier tree analogy. The actions lead to the limbs of outcomes—the results.

    Most people when they want to make changes look only to changing their results. A few more may realize they need to change their actions if they want to change the results. That is not sufficient if you want to make life altering changes. You have got to go all the way back to your thoughts! Why?

    The results came about because of the actions they took. Their actions originated in the habits they had developed, over time, and their habits came from the thought patterns they had engaged in. So to make life altering changes last, you must trace the results back to their origins—the initial thoughts. That is why you need to look at change as a process, not an event.

    Here is an expression that really fits this scenario: "Insanity—doing the same thing—expecting different results."[11] How many times have you focused on changing your actions and results, only to find nothing changed—you did not go deep enough? Lasting change will only occur when you change your thought patterns.

    Are you ready? Let's do it! Let's get down to the essentials! Let's set up a process so we can speed up, and take the stress out of learning, and become a sight reader with a flexible reading range. Let's start doing that now! Now is not the time to join the procrastinators club! Let's, as the Nike slogan says, "Just do it!" As the poster states: "If you want your life to change your choices must change, and today is the best day of your life to begin."

    So, how do I speed up the process? How do I become a sight reader with a flexible reading range?

    Now that you know why it is important to speed up your input of information and, you believe it is possible for you to achieve that goal, what steps do you need to take to begin that change—to make the faster processing of information a habit?

    Habits come in two varieties: those that serve you—the good habits, and those that limit you—the bad habits. Reviewing your coursework every day is a good habit that will enhance your success in writing exams. Coming late for class on a regular basis is a bad habit that will, if unchecked, result in the loss of a part or full time job you enjoy when you revert to the bad habit of coming late. Habits that serve you help you grow and assist you in becoming the best you can be. Habits that limit you create artificial barriers that stop you from evolving into the best "you" possible. By focusing on replacing those that limit you with ones that help you grow and evolve, will give you complete control of your own destiny. Note that you are not eliminating them, you are replacing them. The mind operates best when it is focusing on a positive outcome, like changing a bad habit to something that better serves you, than on a negative outcome, like eliminating a bad habit.

    To replace unproductive reading habits with productive ones is a simple, straightforward process. You could read everything faster every time you sat down to read—rereading anything you failed to understand completely, you could work on believing that increasing your reading speed is possible, you could take steps to reducing your reliance on the inner voice that says the words to you as you read—subvocalization, or you could focus on increasing what your eyes can see every time you look at the page. You could even eliminate the electronic distractors in your world that distract you from the reading task at hand. You know the ones I mean, the cell phone, the iPod, the TV set! Perhaps this cartoon to the left will help you get unshackled from the distractions of electronics. Many speed reading courses help you do one or more of these things.

    What I have found to be the most effective way to replace old reading habits that are no longer serving you, is to focus on doing one simple activity that will give you all of the results of all reading courses: Complete comprehension every time you read at rates of speed over 1,000 wpm, internal belief that faster reading is possible for you, reduced reliance upon the inner voice—sound/subvocalization—when you read, increased span of vision—seeing phrases, whole paragraphs, whole pages with each fixation, and minimized electronic distractions.

    Anything more that needs to be understood to develop reading skills?

    The human brain is a complex mechanism. It learns the most, with the least amount of stress, when it is involved in whole brain learning. Research has shown that the human brain of babies and infants prior to entering school at age six picks up information at a phenomenal rate. You know that to be a fact when you observe babies and infant children just after they are born until age six. They understand and absorb all kinds of information very rapidly. It seems they are soaking up information like a sponge soaks up water—the more they get, the more they want.

    According to the Right/Left Brain theory, known as the lateralization of brain function[12], around age six the brain starts dividing into the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. The left hemisphere is believed to be the center of logic, analysis, and objectivity. The right hemisphere is believed to be the center of intuition, thoughtfulness and subjectivity.

    This theory grew out of the work of Roger W. Sperry in the late 1970's early 1980's while he was studying the effects of epilepsy. He discovered that cutting the corpus collosum (the structure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain) could reduce or eliminate seizures. As patients with this procedure done were examined, it was found that objects that were known before the cutting procedure, were not able to be named after it. This procedure, of cutting the corpus collosum, lead Sperry and other scientists to the development of a theory that some objects were processed by the left side of the brain, others by the right side. Based on this information, Sperry believed that language was controlled by the left side of the brain.

    Brain research became the "in thing" to examine. Before long, according to the left/right brain dominance theory, we had an elaborate catalogue of right and left brain abilities. The right side of the brain was believed to be best at expressive and creative tasks. These abilities were often associated with the right side of the brain: Recognizing Faces, Expressing Emotions, Music, Reading Emotions, Colour, Images, Intuition, and Creativity. The left side of the brain was considered to be the most adept at tasks that involve logic, language, and analytical thinking. The left brain was thought to be better at: Language, Logic, Critical Thinking, Numbers, and Reasoning.

    As research continued a new theory has evolved that suggests that abilities develop best when both halves of the brain work together—whole brain learning.

    What tool will help us engage in Whole Brain Learning?

    Back in the 1980's Sheila Ostrander[13] conducted language studies in the former Yugoslavia—in the Balkans, the area to the East of Italy, on the other side of the Adriatic Sea. She believed that Baroque classical music (music at 60 beats per minute) could harmonize the brain and promote whole brain learning. She was right! Through the use of baroque classical music as "elevator music"—background music—she was able to teach her volunteers proficiency[14] in the French language within two weeks of working with them[15]. The linguistic community was astounded! This basic proficiency level was thought to take years to develop! No one considered it to be in the realm of possibility! What is even more astounding—her "volunteers" were not "average" individuals—the majority of them had serious mental challenges and came from various Yugoslav mental institutions. Check out her book Superlearning to get the complete picture.

    Now we are finally ready! Let's develop your reading range?

    Have you ever heard the expression: "Practice makes perfect!"[16]?

    To get the best results you need to practice, right? Wrong! Not true! To get the best results possible you need to practice "correctly". You will not improve if you practice a skill using incorrect techniques. Practice makes permanent, not perfect. Only correct practice makes perfect!

    What happens if you try to improve your reading speed by reading everything quickly? You end up second guessing yourself, doubting that you are really understanding what you are reading—wondering if you are getting what you need to get from your reading. Before long you have reverted back to your old reading habits—you have retreated back to your comfort zone. Just reading faster is not the answer.

    What happens if you do exercises/activities to tone down your subvocalization (the inner voice that says the words in your brain as you read) by counting out loud from 1 to 10 repeatedly, as you read. You will certainly become aware just how much you rely upon sound as you read—but, you will only frustrate yourself, getting little or nothing out of what you are reading.

    What happens if you try to persuade yourself by repeating positive expressions continuously throughout the day to try and convince yourself you are capable of reading faster? It will have a minimal impact—we found earlier that change requires you to change your thoughts if you want the maximum effect. Changing your thoughts leads to a change in habits which leads to changed actions which, in turn, gives different results. Changing your actions with repeated positive expressions does not go far enough. You must change your thought patterns to achieve lasting different results.

    What you need to do is an activity that will take care of all of these concerns without you having to be consciously aware you are doing it. The brain works best when it is doing something that will give you concrete results without having to focus on the specific details of the process. How many times have you realized you really understand something when you distract your brain and allow it to sort things out on its own? For example, when you identify an exam question you cannot answer and then reread it to understand the question and then tell your brain to find the answer and continue on with the test questions. Invariably, two or three questions later your brain comes up with the answer. Doing things this way does not increase stress—it reduces it, you become more productive, and you get better results. It also helps you develop the intense focus that the gentleman, with his fingers forming a frame for his eyes, is exhibiting.

    How do you increase reading speed and develop a flexible reading range through practice?

    For the best results, choose to practice in a variety of materials—novels, text books, magazines, newspapers, online articles, etc. You want to be working in materials that have columns of varying width all the way to articles like this one where the print goes the full width of an 8 ½" by 11" piece of paper. Use materials that you would normally read in—materials that are relevant to you—materials in which you want to increase your reading speed and/or develop a flexible reading rate.

    After you have decided on the materials you are using, plan for a way to measure your progress. Then take action and do the exercises. Continuously check your results, adjusting your plan as needed. Plan, Do, Check then Plan, Do, Check, etc. will be repeated for as long as you want to improve—forever? Focus on incremental continuous improvements. Your cycle of constant and never-ending improvement will graphically look like something like the triangle to the left.

    To measure, count up the number of words in ten complete lines and divide that number by ten. If, for example, you counted one hundred and thirty-four (134) words in ten lines in a novel that would mean you have 13.4 words per line. By dividing the number of words (134) by the number of lines (10) you end up with an average of 13.4 words per line. Ignore the decimal point by rounding up (.5 or above) or rounding down (.4 of lower). In this novel example you would use a word count of 13 words per line. If you were reading in a textbook with two columns on each page and you had a word count of eighty-five (85) words in ten lines, you would use a word count of nine (9) words per line.

    As soon as you have the word count, click on the egg timer to time yourself for each of the materials you have decided to work in. The timer begins automatically, so only click on the link above whenever you're ready. Did you know there are at least three ways to restart the timer—click your refresh button in the browser—hit the F5 key on the top of your keyboard—hit Ctrl + R on your keyboard.

    As you are reading make sure you are getting the understanding and comprehension you want/need in the materials you are reading. By counting up the number of lines read in one minute and multiplying it by the number of words per line you will have your starting point—your beginning reading speed in the material. In the novel example above if you read 20 lines, your reading speed at the start would be (13 words per line X 20 lines = 260 wpm) 260 words per minute. If you read 25 lines in the textbook column materials your reading speed at the start would be (9 words per line X 25 lines = 225 wpm) 225 words per minute.

    Put a piece of paper in each of the materials you are going to practice in—with your line count and your beginning speed on it—and use it as a bookmark so you have a consistent way to measure your reading speed in your chosen variety of materials after every seven days of practice.

    Now that you have a way to measure, go online to www.YouTube.com and get some free Baroque music you can play in the background as you practice. With this music playing in the background, as mentioned earlier in this article, you will give your brain the opportunity to engage in whole brain learning. With the word "Baroque" as the first word in your search you will find a variety of categories of Baroque music. I have several hours of this kind of music available so he can help himself learn with less pressure/stress when he is trying to concentrate in a less than perfect work area.

    The key to change (higher reading speeds/large reading range) is to develop the habit of forcing yourself to expand your reading Comfort Zone into the Learning Zone so you can experience on an on-going what it feels like going faster. To do this you are going to practice going faster—three times a day (morning, afternoon, and evening), every day, for twenty-eight (28) days. Do not fool yourself! Remember Pinocchio (don't fool yourself — your nose won't grow like his did when he lied). If you forget to do it as you are in your twenty-eight (28) day practice mode you must start again at day one. For example, let's say you forgot to practice on the first Saturday. You had five days in a row, practicing three times a day and you got busy and forgot to practice on Saturday. You must start again at day one and go for twenty-eight (28) more days. Once you have accomplished the twenty-eight (28) day sequence you will have instilled the habit of constantly striving to achieve higher and higher reading speeds with an ever expanding reading range.

    Why is it important to distinguish between reading and practicing?

    When you read, you get the comprehension you want—you go at the speed needed to get the comprehension you want. When you practice, you are seeing what it feels like going twice as fast as your reading speed. If it normally takes you five minutes to read something, you are going to practice going through it in two and a half minutes (2½). You are going to try and understand as much of it as you can—you will come back and read it if you need to—you are going to force your mind to see what it feels like to process information at twice your normal reading speed.

    When you practice regularly, over time, you mind starts adjusting. Without having to think about it, your mind will gradually adjust to processing information according to your reading purpose, it will automatically minimize subvocalization (your former reliance on hearing the sound of every word you read) by making it more selective, your eyes will adjust—increasing the number of words you see with each fixation so you see larger and larger pieces of information, and you will gain confidence and believe you can process information faster. As you continually see what it feels like to practice at twice your comfortable reading rate your mind will get the idea you want to go faster and start making adjustments so you will continue to progress.

    Initially your progress may be very dramatic, like you see in Figure 3243 to the left. Periodically, you may find that it plateaus. If that happens, practice at rates three times your comfortable reading speed. If you continue on practicing you can expect to keep increasing your reading speeds, developing a very effective reading range. After a year or so you will see you feel much more comfortable with reading because you can read fast or slow, depending on what you are reading, why you are reading it, what you want from it, and the density and/or concentration of the ideas in the information—the more technical the information, the higher the density and/or concentration of the ideas.

    Next!

    Cancel your membership in the procrastinators club and get going on developing your effective reading range. Don't wait! Start your 28 day habit cycle today! Right Now!

    Anything Star Wars was an automatic hit years ago. I had a son that was into Star Wars merchandise big time. He had a room full of Storm Troopers, Darth Vader masks, Luke Skywalker light sabers, etc. Many people in the personal growth, self-improvement areas have, for years, quoted the three lines on the picture of Yoda. Don't try. Trying is what children in kindergarten do. You are no longer in kindergarten!

    I had a friend back in the 80's and 90's that was a game developer. His dream was to create games. One weekend he invited me over to play his newest creation. Little did I realize that the name of his game was to become a household expression. His name was Michael Haynes. The game he invented was called Just Do It! Fast forward a few years and his dream became a reality. The courts agreed with him—he owned the Just Do It name and Nike had to pay him mega dollars to take it over. Your dream is to be able to process information faster. Just Do It! Get the process underway RIGHT NOW!

    Keep your head out of the sand!

    Make the decision. Don't pretend you're an ostrich. Keep your head out of the sand. Decide now that you're going to develop a flexible reading range so you can process information as fast as you want. You now know too much to go back in time. Move on! Start applying the skills you have just learned. Do not compromise your present level of knowledge; you have worked too hard to acquire it!

    What has developing a Reading Range meant to me?

    Back in the 70's I was in my fifth year of university with a daunting amount of reading to do. During the fifth year I had to write his undergraduate thesis and had mega amounts of material to read. The trouble was I was a "lip reader" and could only process the printed page at ninety (90) words per minute. Needless to say I did not read much, and when I did read, I usually dozed off. In fact, I hated to read and only read out of desperation—when I could not get the information any other way. As it turned out this year was a turning point in my life. I met a lady by the name of Evelyn Wood. She later became famous by teaching President Kennedy's staff how to read more quickly. She founded a company that is still in existence, Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics. After taking her course I felt like she had turned a light-switch on in my brain. Now, forty years later, after teaching for years with the Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics company, and developing my own reading program of studies with Dr. Paul Koziey at the University of Alberta, I have successfully developed a reading range from two hundred (200) to fifteen thousand (15,000) words per minute. I continued to research in the area of personal growth and self-development skills, and am able to process information equivalent of four (4) to five (5) novels a day.

    Stay tuned for additional articles on notetaking, listening, studying, public speaking, etc.