Slovenian language teachers encounter different reading habits of individuals. We are confronted by so-called book lovers and by individuals to whom reading is not close. We know that reading is a fundamental skill necessary for knowledge acquisition, learning and a successful work-career. In my professional field, I have repeatedly encountered “reading resistance”. Because of this, I decided to implement a reading approach in my work that will enable the individual to read more efficiently and faster. I monitored, tested, and researched speed reading techniques by participating in the national HiBra speed reading championship organisation. I focused on implementing the techniques taught by Ms Vanja Jus, MSc, national champion in speed reading.
Keywords: speed reading, improving reading speed, comprehension
We are open to new learning approaches at the School Centre, where I teach the Slovene language. We are aware that the teacher’s mission is to acquire new knowledge that contributes to effective learning and long-lasting memory of the subject matter. New learning approaches are crucial to building knowledge from the bottom up. “Today”, we want to read and absorb larger amounts of text and information. Reading takes up much time. It is crucial to tackle it systematically and find approaches and techniques that will conserve time and motivate us to read even more. I am a member of the organising committee of the Slovene national speed-reading championship HiBra. We aim to implement speed reading techniques in everyday teaching and to motivate pupils to use them. We have connected Slovenian schools into the MemoŠOLA network.
HiBra – National Speed-Reading Championship
The European Innovation Center Univerzum Minerva Maribor is the organiser of the national speed-reading championship HiBra. HiBra is a competition that allows individuals to become familiar with speed reading techniques in theory and practice. Speed reading techniques are popular competitive skills in Slovenia. Readers compete in reading and understanding three unknown texts, appropriate for the different age groups. The reading result is the product of the speed of reading and comprehension of the text. Only when the competitor proves that he understood at least 60% of the text counts.
The competition is complementary to the World Organization of Mental Sports competition. The speed-reading competition aims to improve reading literacy, spread Slovenian reading culture, and enable individuals to develop and test acquired skills through such contests.
Selection of speed-reading techniques and preparation of instructions for speed reading competitors
We carefully studied speed reading techniques with Ms Vanja Jus, MSc, a mental sports judge and a licensed lecturer in speed reading techniques. From many different reading approaches and techniques, we prepared instructions for speed reading training that allows an individual to make rapid progress in learning and using reading techniques. The instructions guide the individual and enable him to learn the speed-reading methods by himself.
Instructions for faster reading and increased reading comprehension
1. Measuring the reading speed
Use a stopwatch to determine the start of reading. Read the text at normal speed. Use the clock to determine the end of the reading and calculate the duration of the reading process in minutes.
There are X words in the text. Divide this number by the number of minutes and get the reading speed. You can use this formula:
Picture 1. Schematic presentation of the reading formula
Use a stopwatch to measure the time needed to read and to determine the speed and so be able to track the progress made.
2. Environmental disturbances
For fast reading, we need a quiet place where we can read. Let’s get rid of distractions (music, television) because that’s the only way to read optimally. The use of headphones or earplugs is also recommended.
3. Adjusting the tempo
Reading speed depends on the type of text, e.g., we read novels faster, we read the words we need to know in more detail more slowly. It is essential to maintain a level of comprehension of the text read.
4. Text overlay
We follow Pareto’s rule. Let’s review the text first. We skim over the shorter texts in full and check the longer ones with the help of an index.
5. Obstacle: reading back
We learn not to go back to the previous words in the text (regression). This happens because we “feel” like we have forgotten the text that we read and underestimate our brains’ ability. It is vital to read well at first and perform exercises to prevent back movements.
6. Obstacle: semi-aloud reading/subvocalisation
Let’s avoid reading aloud, which slows us down. Visualisation is important. It helps to count while reading. Try to give a finger to a mouth.
7. Help: the finger is the driver when you are driving fast
Read by hand/finger. Timely, steady eye movement is essential. We withdraw our fingers when we learn to read faster and know how to push ourselves.
8. Quickly move from line to line
We spend much time switching between lines. Let’s read the next line from right to left, as we can also remember and understand it. We need practice.
9. Wide word capture
Let’s try not to capture individual letters, capture words, and visualise them.
Let’s encourage ourselves not to give up but to persevere. Let’s be aware that speed reading is a skill and requires training.
11. Reading speed measurement
We measure our reading once every two weeks and compare speed. Let’s write the progress in the diagram.
12. Speed of training duration
Let’s step up training. In the beginning, read for 5 minutes and gradually move to a longer time interval.
13. Reading goal
Let’s set a rough goal: “I want to read the book in _______________________________________ (set your own goal).”
The guidelines are published on the website http://www.memoriada.eu and are available free of charge. The individual has the opportunity to join a mentor or trainer at MemoŠOLA, who introduces speed reading techniques and monitors the progress of reading speed and comprehension. Free of charge.
Practical test of speed-reading techniques
I tried the above-described system of speed-reading techniques by myself. After using them, my reading speed increased more than twice. I tested my reading speed on the first article. I found myself reading at a rate of 275 words per minute. In doing so, I had a 95% understanding of what I read. After a week of training, with the techniques presented above, I checked my reading speed. I achieved 610 words read per minute while I maintained reading comprehension at the same level.
The national speed-reading championship’s results confirmed the efficiency of the above speed-reading techniques. Very indicative are the results from 2018, when 64 competitors from all over Slovenia entered the national speed-reading competition out of 198 competitors from network MemoŠOLA. The reading results were terrific, as the champion in the JUNIORS category read 8523 words per minute. In the CHILDREN category, the winner read 5751 words per minute. In the ADULTS category, the best competitor achieved 1731 words read per minute. After talking to the contestants’ mentors, we found out that the contestants, guided once a week, practised speed reading according to the instructions above and achieved outstanding results after three months. The speed-reading training was led by qualified HiBra trainers, who were previously given the relevant knowledge of speed reading techniques at the Univerzum of Minerva.
From the analysis of the results of the national speed-reading championship, we understand that speed reading techniques bring positive effects for individuals. We find out that individuals achieve more efficient and faster reading with the help of prepared instructions for faster reading and increased reading comprehension. This approach is the key to raising the individual’s self-confidence and enabling him to process the learning material faster, learn more, and use his time devoted to learning.
- Cokan, P., & Jus, V. (2017). Report of the National Speed-Reading Competition with Comprehension. EIC Universe Minerva Maribor. http://www.memoriada.eu/images/2017/september_2017/Poro%C4%8Dilo_HiBra_2017.pdf
- Cokan, P., & Jus, V. (2019). Report of the National Speed-Reading Competition with Comprehension. EIC Universe Minerva Maribor. http://www.memoriada.eu/10-aktualno/168-4-drzavno-prvenstvo-v-hitrem-branju-hibra-2019
- Jus, V., & Černjak, N. (2018). Guidelines for faster reading and increased reading comprehension, EIC Univerzum Minerva Maribor. http://www.memoriada.eu/10-aktualno/130-napotki-za-hitrejse-branje