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Test yourself for how many times you fixate
Look at the phrase of four words -
Power belongs to learners
a) 25% of educated readers focus on the P in power,
mentally attempting to split the word power into syllables - a 3rd grade
b) 70% of intelligent readers focus on the single-word -
Power of the phrase, and are reading one-word-at-a-time - a snail-slow 3rd grade
reading strategy used all their reading lives.
c) 5% of readers - speed readers - focus their eyes on the entire-
four words simultaneously - Power belongs to learners. They see it as Power
belong stolearners. They are using their peripheral-vision to chunk groups
of words at-a-time for better context, and improved concentration and long-term
A skilled reader will read many words in each fixation
(typically from five to an entire line), will only fixate for a very short period
of time (maybe quarter of a second), and will move on with very few skip-backs.
This minimizes the amount of work that the reader's eyes have to do, increases the
volume of information that can be examined in a period of time, and maximizes understanding
of the material.
A poor reader will become bogged down, spending a lot of time
reading small fixations. He or she will skip back often, losing the flow and structure
of the text and hence overall understanding of the subject. The increased amount
of irregular eye movement will make the reading. A poor reader may therefore find
the text significantly less satisfying, and may find it harder to concentrate and
understand the text than a good reader.
What is fixations
A fixation is that split second when the eye focuses on a letter or word. Among
adult readers fixations vary in number per line and in width. To see the eyes fixate
and move across lines of print use a sheet of paper with typed paragraphs on it.
Punch a small hole in the center of the text. Hold the blank side of the paper close
to the face so you look through that little hole as someone else reads the paragraph
silently. Watch their eyeballs. No wonder the eyes get tired when you read a lot!
They have been busy little fellas bouncing around like that, and they need an
occasional rest. Count the number of fixations per line. Count the number of words
per line and divide by the number of fixations to find the average number of fixations
per line. Ask the other person to watch you read and to count eyes fixations.
You may be able to read faster by reducing the number of fixations per line from
perhaps seven to three. This problem is a carry-over from first grade when you learned
to recognize one letter at a time and then combine them into one word at a time.
We have to break that habit. To accomplish this you may learn to include more text
per fixation so you see three plus four or seven letters on either side of the fixation
for a total of eleven to seventeen letters (the middle three letters plus four on
each side would total eleven).
Visual span software
A unique computer program can help you broad the visual span as you
read. These are vertical lines on the
screen that are about a centimeter apart at first and change to two or three centimeters
apart as your fixation span increases. You fixate on the lines as you read. As with
any skill development, practice is necessary. The program should be set up to help
you with eye fixation and movement over the page.
Reduce the word by word focus of the eyes as you are actually
The objective is to read slightly faster than you are used to using a special
hand motion to "soften" your eye focus.
Hold the book with your left hand at the top. Slightly cup your right hand and place
the ends of your index, middle and ring fingers on the right hand side of the top
of the text.
You are going to make quick hand motions which move the right fingers down and to
the left at about 45 degrees. You must move the fingers quickly as if you are "polishing"
the page. As you polish you will be reading for understanding. i.e. read normally.
You are not "scanning". Read the text that is being "polished" by your fingers.
This technique is far more effective than just placing your fingers under the line
you are reading. As you become more proficient, challenge your reading speed by
making the hand motions more vertical. Remember to always try to be on the upper
limit of how fast you can read and still understand what you are reading.
Practice and speed reading
Question: I'm currently interested in speed reading, a possibly useful
augmentation on my natural state, I'm not sure about it's effectiveness (or even
possible effectiveness). A bit curious about the experiences of others, and of possible
studies into the subject.
So, the question is, do you happen to have some information that might help me?
Answer: A few things to look at:
1. How much do you read?
2. How often do you read?
3. How much do you enjoy reading?
Speed reading is a skill that is acquired after much reading. I started heavily
reading at the age of 10 and by the time I was 12-13 I could speed read flawlessly.
That skill has not degraded at all over the years. I think the more you read the
more your mind adapts to it, to were eventually it will pick out the most important
words, naturally to were with less words you understand it as well as if you read
every word or the whole sentence.