Posted by: wordsmithsuk | August 5, 2014

Speed reading tip – using a guide

When children learn how to read, they often point to the words as they read them. Teachers have hand-pen-7471489traditionally regarded this as a symptom of immature reading, and have told them to take their fingers off the page. But instead of insisting that they remove their fingers, we should ask them to move their fingers faster.

The hand can be a powerful aid in helping the eye to speed up and the reader to establish a smooth, rhythmical reading habit.

The reason for using a guide is that our eyes move faster and more accurately when they have something to focus on. You don’t have to use your finger as a visual guide; you can use a pointer such as a pen or a pencil, as many naturally efficient readers do.

At first, it may seem that the pointer is slowing down your reading speed. This is because we imagine that we read faster than we actually do. But, when you measure it, you’ll find that the pointer-aided speed is faster.

A pointer will increase your reading in three different ways.

  •  First, it will make you move your eye forward and eliminate back skipping.
  •  Second, it will help you to move your eyes along faster – because the faster you guide your eye the faster you’ll read.
  •  And third, it will make you reduce the number of fixations you make. As the eye moves faster it is encouraged to take in more words with each fixation.

There are many different ways of using the visual guide. The classic technique is to take a pen or pencil and hold it under the line of type, about one centimetre away from the left- hand margin. Then you pull the pointer very smoothly along underneath the line till you reach a spot about one centimetre away from the right-hand margin. After that, move your pen or pencil down to the next line and do the same again. Continue until you’ve read the whole page, using a smooth rhythmic action. If using a guide feels strange, it may be just a question of getting used to the new habit.

If you feel that the guide gets in the way or that you can’t move it as fast as you would like to read, try moving the guide in a different way. You can experiment with various patterns, including pointing smoothly down the right or left hand margin, diagonal or S-shaped sweeps, zig-zags or straight down-the-page movements.

Using your visual guide is a great way of developing your peripheral vision. Much of written English is highly redundant, which means that you don’t have to read every letter, every word or even every sentence or paragraph. Because you don’t need to look directly at all the words, your peripheral vision can check that they are what is expected, while your focused vision is actually fixating elsewhere.

My audio book ‘Speed Reading for Success’ has helped many people to master these
skills. See what you can do!

Find details and a sample on our website


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: