Learning How to Read


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I was just realizing that I am pretty much the slowest reader in my family (of those above 14 years of age).  I believe my 12 and 13 year old read about as fast as I do.  Obviously, the younger ones are slower.  I say obviously, but my 18 year old was reading faster than i do currently when he was only 8 years old.

So, I'm wondering if there is anything anyone can suggest that would actually help me read faster. People have described some speed reading methods. But they seem to be simply methods of skimming rather than actually reading.  Is that all there is?

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Reject the pressure!  Just say slow, er no.  Though I will say that when I read a lot (like, constantly, every spare minute, which I haven't had / done enough of in recent years, long story), my speed naturally increased.

If I recall correctly, you recently asked why Jayki, I think, needed to study.  I had the same thoughts.  In school, my friends all studied, I didn't generally see the need (maybe a few reminders of things that are naturally hard to remember, but not concepts).  I believe the two reasons for that were notetaking and slow reading.

For fiction and scripture, at least, I read at the same pace as if I were reading aloud with emphasis and feeling appropriate to the passage I'm reading.  That's pretty slow.  If I try to speed up, the "voice" in my head gets out of sync with what my brain is understanding and they trip all over each other - that has literally happened, and I have to tell my brain to just slow down and follow along with the voice part of me.

(Relevant note: I always read fiction in paper, not electronic.)  The benefit of this is that for the bits I remember (or am reminded of), I can not only remember what I read, but I have a vague notion of about how far into the book it was, and almost always remember whether it was on the left- or right-hand page, where-abouts on the page, and the general shape of the paragraphing.  I don't remember these things exactly, but well enough to pretty quickly find the passage of interest in my copy of the book so I can re-read it (something I do on occasion just cuz I really enjoyed that part of the story - which generally leads to me skimming and then re-reading the good parts through the rest of the book).

IMO, this is something to savor, not something to rush through.  Of course, if you really want to become Dr. Spencer Reid, well, have at it, but I can't help you.

Edited by zil
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17 minutes ago, zil said:

For fiction and scripture, at least, I read at the same pace as if I were reading aloud with emphasis and feeling appropriate to the passage I'm reading.  That's pretty slow. 

That's exactly what I do.  That's how slowly I read.

17 minutes ago, zil said:

If I try to speed up, the "voice" in my head gets out of sync with what my brain is understanding and they trip all over each other - that has literally happened, and I have to tell my brain to just slow down and follow along with the voice part of me.

I don't know how to even do this.  I'd like to learn this.

Studying slowly is fine for technical books and scriptures.  But if I just want to enjoy a piece of fiction, I don't want to memorize it. I just want the story.

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1 minute ago, Carborendum said:

I don't know how to even do this.  I'd like to learn this.

Studying slowly is fine for technical books and scriptures.  But if I just want to enjoy a piece of fiction, I don't want to memorize it. I just want the story.

It doesn't happen often.  It may only happen with scripture, and may be because of how familiar I am with it. When it does happen, if I want to read faster, I have to turn off the voice - something very difficult that I can't do for long.  For example, if I'm reading something with the name of the Church, I'll often just skip right over it because I don't need to read every word of it - I know what it means.  My eyes and brain register the words, but I don't read them - I think that's part of it.  I'll do similar with a long phrase that I've got memorized and that's not the point of my reading...

You might try listening to the Gospel Library app read to you at a speed faster than you normally read, while following along in the text, and see if that does anything for you.  I think it might have something to do with not focusing your eyes on the individual words / lines / paragraphs, but just letting them take it all in at once, but that's a guess.

Maybe just tell your family to fend for themselves and remember to pay the bills while you spend a year doing nothing but reading. ;)

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8 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

I don't know how to even do this.  I'd like to learn this.

Note: I really can't shut the voice off - at least not for long - I have to tell the other to slow down.  So while I've gotten a glimpse at it, I can't really do it.

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9 hours ago, Carborendum said:

I was just realizing that I am pretty much the slowest reader in my family (of those above 14 years of age).  I believe my 12 and 13 year old read about as fast as I do.  Obviously, the younger ones are slower.  I say obviously, but my 18 year old was reading faster than i do currently when he was only 8 years old.

So, I'm wondering if there is anything anyone can suggest that would actually help me read faster. People have described some speed reading methods. But they seem to be simply methods of skimming rather than actually reading.  Is that all there is?

Practice, Practice, Practice???

Your kids probably get practice at school (whether it is material they want to read or not) and then get a lot more time to read (practice) on their own free time as you.

It may be a losing proposition trying to catch up to their reading speed, but, if you practice it may increase your own reading speed.

I learned two ways of reading long ago.  The first way I only read around 50 pages an hour.  That means I can finish a 500 page book in a day if I focus.  This method focused on our normal method of reading, where you read a line progressively.

The other way is much faster.  The idea is that you can actually process an image faster than you can a sentence, and hence you read a page all at once.  At first, you can't read a thing, it seems jibberish, but as you train your brain to read this way...it actually works.  I hate reading this way though.  In some ways, the information comes at you far to fast and you do not have time to process everything that you read.  This method can allow me to read up to 250 pages an hour approximately, and I have 90% retention, but I don't have the time to really deliberate and think or ponder what I just read. 

Sometimes reading slower is beneficial, for example, the reason I stated it above.  When reading by the slower method I have time for me to think and to ponder more about what I am reading rather than just reading to get the information or story or whatever it is that I'm aiming to obtain.

Edited by JohnsonJones
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12 hours ago, Carborendum said:

  Is that all there is?

Pretty much.

Okay, my 16- the new-old is such a speed reader he finished Mistborn on one school day.  He gained speed reading skills through his video game - he's playing and tracking the conversation on the side so he has to read it fast before it scrolls off the page.  From my observation, he only reads the main words and skips articles, linking verbs, etc.  So it's like skimming on steroids - filtering out words that he can just plug with context.  So, you know how people can still understand the paragraph written without a single vowel?  Because we can pretty much add the vowel sound as we read all the consonants... it's kinda like that except we're taking out words instead of vowels.

My 14-year-old is also a speed reader.  Same thing - video games.  But he does his differently.  He looks at a word as a picture instead of letters.  I can't quite explain it.  I worked really hard getting him to be good at spelling.

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6 hours ago, JohnsonJones said:

Practice, Practice, Practice???

In case you haven't noticed, I read all the time.  It's not only an occupational hazard, but it is part of being a member of my family.  We're a family of readers.  But I was simply never able to make it over this hump.

Quote

The other way is much faster.  The idea is that you can actually process an image faster than you can a sentence, and hence you read a page all at once.  At first, you can't read a thing, it seems jibberish, but as you train your brain to read this way...it actually works.

OK.  So how do you do this.  Everything I've been told about this seems to be nothing more than I'd consider skimming.  And I simply don't get enough information to actually make anything coherent. 

I can "scan" really easily.  When I look through code, and I can't find the passage I want via index or table of contents, I have to scan for a word or a number that I know is in the passage I'm looking for.  I run my finger down the page at about 1 to 2 sec per page.  I can scan for those search terms in my brain.  I usually find it.

But this method is not for actually gaining any useful information from what I read.  It is only to find the passage I need.  Then I slow down and actually read the passage.

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1 hour ago, Carborendum said:

OK.  I how do you do this. 

Basically, you train yourself to activate the visual cognition part of your brain instead of the phonological (or some such).  How to actually do this - no idea.  Some public schools in Cleveland experimented on teaching gifted kids to read in this manner back in the 80's.  My boss was one of the kids.  She's actually the one who told me about what may be the deal with my son.  Basically, instead of teaching kids to read by phonetically sounding out letters, they learned to read words using flashcards.

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3 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

Basically, you train yourself to activate the visual cognition part of your brain instead of the phonological (or some such).  How to actually do this - no idea.  Some public schools in Cleveland experimented on teaching gifted kids to read in this manner back in the 80's.  My boss was one of the kids.  She's actually the one who told me about what may be the deal with my son.

Well, yeah.  I wonder if there is something about being more visually or phonically dominant.

I know my son who is naturally a speed reader is very much visual.  I had thought I was a visual person (for good reason).  But I also hear things other people can't.  And I remember words much better when I hear the emotion behind it.

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I used to read very fast. I was an early reader (from about age 4), and I found reading to be fun. Fast reading just increased the fun, from my (childish) perspective. I grew up at a time when Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics was heavily advertised on TV, and would show a person running his finger down page after page of text, spending about two or three seconds per page. I thought it looked like magic, so I wanted to imitate it. However, when I tried "speed reading", it left me feeling frustrated. I missed almost everything. So I gave up on it.

A bit later in life, I found that my "normal" fast reading was not actually as beneficial as I had thought -- sort of the opposite of your problem. I think I first realized this reading scriptures, which I started doing in earnest only on my mission. Over the next decade, I learned to slow down and actually read as if I were speaking or having a conversation. My enjoyment of reading, which by that time had been on the wane for some time, increased immensely. Scriptures sprang to life, as did books, especially fiction. I re-read Tolkien's three Lord of the Rings books at one point, and marveled at how greatly I enjoyed his descriptive passages such as his details of Tom Bombadil and Goldberry (?), which as a high schooler I barely skimmed over. BO-RING! Well, not now. Reading became fun again, and though I read more slowly than before (even as a child), my retention was much greater, and my enjoyment of reading, especially of narrative, increased exponentially.

I did notice some other things, not all good. The science fiction I had loved so much as a child was, on rereading, rather thinly written. The ideas were interesting enough, but the character portrayals were often two-dimensional (or one-dimensional). I found much dialog and proclaimed (or perceived) motivation to be unrealistic, even laughable. Rereading Niven in particular was a painful enlightenment. (Surprisingly, to me at least, Asimov held up quite well. His stuff was rarely character-driven, and his characters were just about as rounded out as he needed them to be to tell his story.) In the same vein, some writings I had prized very much in my childhood and young adulthood (I think my term was "deep") didn't really bear close scrutiny. But in the end, it was a part of growing up and all for the good.

So I guess I'm suggesting that you don't worry too much about increasing your reading speed. Personally, I no longer see it as much of a virtue.

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23 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

Well, yeah.  I wonder if there is something about being more visually or phonically dominant.

I know my son who is naturally a speed reader is very much visual.  I had thought I was a visual person (for good reason).  But I also hear things other people can't.  And I remember words much better when I hear the emotion behind it.

It might be easy for you to learn visual reading.  I actually don't know how to go about learning to read this way as an adult.  I only know how kids were taught to read this way as their first instruction.  The downside to this, according to my boss, is visual readers work harder at writing - especially spelling.

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11 minutes ago, Vort said:

Is there another kind? I mean, I suppose there's tactile reading, but I haven't yet seen the benefit in learning Braille.

@Carborendum, here's another thing about my 2 kids - my oldest kid is a pianist... now, my brother-in-law is also a pianist and he can read sheet music like a book.  There's this music thing called "playing prima vista" where you pick up an instrument, sheet music is placed infront of you that you may not have ever seen before, and you read the notes and play it on your instrument.  My brother-in-law can play prima vista on stage.  He's that good at reading music.  My kid stuggles with it even as he's been learning to read music since he was 4 years old and until today, he has to read the notes of a Church hymn he hasn't played before at least once through (some a few times) first before he can play it at tempo.

My other kid is a drummer... and he can read percussion sheet music like a book - never struggled with it.  From what his drum teacher told me, that's a very valuable skill in drumming and most colleges put you on the top of the scholarship list if you're good at it.  And I'm thinking that's probably why he's good at it because he's a... uhm @Vort... visually cognitive? reader.

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40 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

@Carborendum, here's another thing about my 2 kids - my oldest kid is a pianist... now, my brother-in-law is also a pianist and he can read sheet music like a book.  There's this music thing called "playing prima vista" where you pick up an instrument, sheet music is placed infront of you that you may not have ever seen before, and you read the notes and play it on your instrument.  My brother-in-law can play prima vista on stage.  He's that good at reading music.  My kid stuggles with it even as he's been learning to read music since he was 4 years old and until today, he has to read the notes of a Church hymn he hasn't played before at least once through (some a few times) first before he can play it at tempo.

My other kid is a drummer... and he can read percussion sheet music like a book - never struggled with it.  From what his drum teacher told me, that's a very valuable skill in drumming and most colleges put you on the top of the scholarship list if you're good at it.  And I'm thinking that's probably why he's good at it because he's a... uhm @Vort... visually cognitive? reader.

Well, I've never heard the term "playing prima vista".  But the translation would simply mean "playing first sight" i.e. "sight reading" which is the term I usually hear for what you describe.

I'm able to do that with some instruments that I'm familiar with.  Most people can do this with just a lot of practice.  It doesn't really take much.  But there is a big difference between reading music and reading words.

Read a note, play a note, verify by hearing the note.  Easy peasy.

With words... not so much.  Homonyms, differing definitions, nuanced intent, interpretation, word emphasis, context in sentence, context in overall passage, context in overall story...

How on earth does one make all that out by simply skimming?

With music (with few exceptions) there really aren't any homonyms or differing definitions.  Nuanced intent, emphasis, context, etc. is discovered with a casual reading and is done with a 10 to 30 second review of the piece (depending on the length of the piece).  That's just not possible with a 1000 page book.

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1 hour ago, anatess2 said:

Basically, you train yourself to activate the visual cognition part of your brain instead of the phonological (or some such).  How to actually do this - no idea.  Some public schools in Cleveland experimented on teaching gifted kids to read in this manner back in the 80's.  My boss was one of the kids.  She's actually the one who told me about what may be the deal with my son.  Basically, instead of teaching kids to read by phonetically sounding out letters, they learned to read words using flashcards.

Yes, that's basically how it works.  @anatess2 beat me to it.  It's sort of like seeing a picture rather than a sentence.  The best way to describe it suppose is like art.  Some people would see art as one element or line at a time, while others look at the whole picture. 

Another way I suppose you could look at it is like a conductor who has the entire score at his hands.  Rather then just seeing one line of music (just as treble clef for a violin we'll say, or a Bass Cleff for the Bass, or a C Cleff for Viola) he sees the entire score as he goes and reads it.  He sees all the notes at once rather than a single line.

I suppose in some ways reading and playing a piano could be a somewhat limited version of this.  Instead of reading only one note at a time, a Pianist has to read at least 2 or more notes at the same time, sometimes getting up to 8 to 10 notes in one quick glance. 

Expanding on that is seeing things more of all at once rather than a single word at a time.

Not sure if that makes sense, but trying to explain it the best I can describe it to someone who might not read in that fashion.

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18 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

Well, I've never heard the term "playing prima vista".  But the translation would simply mean "playing first sight" i.e. "sight reading" which is the term I usually hear for what you describe.

I'm able to do that with some instruments that I'm familiar with.  Most people can do this with just a lot of practice.  It doesn't really take much.  But there is a big difference between reading music and reading words.

Read a note, play a note, verify by hearing the note.  Easy peasy.

With words... not so much.  Homonyms, differing definitions, nuanced intent, interpretation, word emphasis, context in sentence, context in overall passage, context in overall story...

How on earth does one make all that out by simply skimming?

With music (with few exceptions) there really aren't any homonyms or differing definitions.  Nuanced intent, emphasis, context, etc. is discovered with a casual reading and is done with a 10 to 30 second review of the piece (depending on the length of the piece).  That's just not possible with a 1000 page book.

It's not really skimming.  On this you are thinking too much.  It's recognizing the word as a word, rather than how it is spelled.

For example if I said the word

I

You probably understand that word and symbol instantly.  You know that letter and can identify it's shape.  Now, instead of just seeing one letter at a time, you see the whole word, and then the whole sentence.  For example, something easy...

I am.

am I?

You can tell the difference almost immediately, even if you don't see it as a picture rather than a set of words.  All you are doing in the faster method is expanding seeing a single letter or word at a time to everything at a time.

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32 minutes ago, JohnsonJones said:

It's not really skimming.  On this you are thinking too much.  It's recognizing the word as a word, rather than how it is spelled.

For example if I said the word

I

You probably understand that word and symbol instantly.  You know that letter and can identify it's shape.  Now, instead of just seeing one letter at a time, you see the whole word, and then the whole sentence.  For example, something easy...

I am.

am I?

You can tell the difference almost immediately, even if you don't see it as a picture rather than a set of words.  All you are doing in the faster method is expanding seeing a single letter or word at a time to everything at a time.

Interestingly, President Marcos - Philippine dictator - is a visual reader.  He is so good at it that he can look at a page for a few seconds, put it down, and deliver the page in a speech without looking at it again.  That was one of the things that the media fawned about when Reagan invited him to the White House.  Reagan pulled out the red carpet treatment and Reagan gave a speech from his notes (teleprompter was not a thing yet) on a stage set in the WH garden with everybody looking on from the fence through to the Lincoln Memorial... then Marcos stood on the same stage and delivered an entire speech without looking down at his paper after the first glance. 

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2 hours ago, JohnsonJones said:

It's not really skimming.  On this you are thinking too much.  It's recognizing the word as a word, rather than how it is spelled.

I don't know how you got that from what I wrote.

2 hours ago, Carborendum said:

With words... not so much.  Homonyms, differing definitions, nuanced intent, interpretation, word emphasis, context in sentence, context in overall passage, context in overall story...

This is not about spelling.  It is about meaning.  I don't understand how one can get the meaning of an entire sentence by simply reading one or two words in the sentence without understanding context and emphasis of the word in the sentence or the tone in which it is written/read.

Quote

For example if I said the word

I

You probably understand that word and symbol instantly.  You know that letter and can identify it's shape.  Now, instead of just seeing one letter at a time, you see the whole word, and then the whole sentence.  For example, something easy...

I am.

am I?

You can tell the difference almost immediately, even if you don't see it as a picture rather than a set of words.  All you are doing in the faster method is expanding seeing a single letter or word at a time to everything at a time.

Yes, I read the words and understand them.  But individual words and even a few words at a time are really meaningless.  To use your example:

I

I know what the word means.  But if I were to just come up to you and say, "I"

You'd look at me as if I were deficient in some way.  You'd probably ask,"you .. what?"  Why would you do that?  Because the single word does not communicate any significant meaning.  One must look at the whole sentence to gather meanings.  And simply picking out random words from a sentence doesn't do the trick.

So, what do speed readers do to get past this deficiency?

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3 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

One must look at the whole sentence to gather meanings.  And simply picking out random words from a sentence doesn't do the trick.

My oldest son picks out the main words of a sentence and instead of reading connecting words to give it context he infers the context.  My younger son looks at the entire sentence - even paragraphs - as a picture.

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18 hours ago, Carborendum said:

I was just realizing that I am pretty much the slowest reader in my family (of those above 14 years of age).  I believe my 12 and 13 year old read about as fast as I do.  Obviously, the younger ones are slower.  I say obviously, but my 18 year old was reading faster than i do currently when he was only 8 years old.

So, I'm wondering if there is anything anyone can suggest that would actually help me read faster. People have described some speed reading methods. But they seem to be simply methods of skimming rather than actually reading.  Is that all there is?

Might trying listening to books.  Or if it's not available as audio normally, you can get the text and convert into a mp3 of the computer-speech with any one of a number of free programs.  Depending the complexity of the content/speed of the narrator, you often can get it up to 2.5-3x normal.  It's speed listening .

And, you can multi-task while doing it.

Note: it does not work well for poetry :)  

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Just now, anatess2 said:

My oldest son picks out the main words of a sentence and instead of reading connecting words to give it context he infers the context.  My younger son looks at the entire sentence - even paragraphs - as a picture.

The "picking out main words" is basically skimming.  And it can lead to misunderstandings quite easily.  The "paragraph as a picture" (if you're saying the same thing I've heard about before) is what I simply don't understand.  I don't see how that can be.

I've heard that people develop a skill to be able to glance at a page and see a moving picture or hear an instantaneous audio of the happenings of the entire page.  I don't know how that's possible.  it seems like a savant skill that one simply cannot learn.

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