Glossary of Reading Terms

Below is an ever-growing list of terms relating to enhanced reading education. This Glossary of Reading Terms was derived from our Literature Survey, which was an exhaustive research study in the niche field of speed reading, this study involved books, technical journals and academic papers.

This research has allowed us to develop the design criteria for our software program The Reader's Edge ensuring it surpasses all academic, theoretical and pedagogical principles relating to the teaching of enhanced reading skills.

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Active Reading: Discovering the "meaning" behind the words in reading material. Active readers are active thinkers, drawing their own conclusions and consciously agreeing or disagreeing with the author's ideas. Studies suggest that active readers are among the most efficient of all readers. Aspects of active reading include: applying what you know (prior knowledge); interacting with the author (responding critically to the text); predicting (trying to determine the importance of the selected text); solving problems (slowing to understand confusing passages); and summarizing (two-line summaries of the material, either at the end of each page or where convenient).

It is helpful for readers to stop reading occasionally and ask what the author is really saying, what ideas are being presented in the text, and evaluate the importance of those ideas. Active reading is almost like carrying on a virtual interchange with the author and the subject matter. Active readers should be responsive, comparing the book's information with other books already read, and generally think for themselves (rather than allow the author to do all the thinking).


Anticipation in Reading: Determining the author's approach in reading materials. Anticipation allows readers an opportunity to become acquainted with the topic, which aids in both concentration and comprehension. Previewing is a major factor in anticipation, but the process can involve selecting, skipping, skimming and scanning.


Auditory Reassurance: "Hearing" words while reading text. Auditory reassurance is characterized as "inner speech," or "hearing" the unspoken sounds of the words in the text. Sometimes called subvocalization, it is the most subtle form of word-by-word reading, resulting in slower reading rates and less comprehension.

Sounding words while reading forces a slower rate of reading, almost equal to the rate of oral reading. Eliminating or reducing auditory reading allows readers to think about the meaning of words rather than how they sound.


Author's Message: The ideas of the author of a selected text. Efficient readers are sensitive to the ideas and tone of the author, which raises their ability for anticipation (of the author's direction), for active reading and thinking, and for improved comprehension of the subject matter.


Backward Reading: A technique used by efficient speed readers. Backward reading occurs when readers move (left to right) through a line of print and then move backwards (right to left) through the next line of print. For most, reading in both directions is twice as fast as reading in one direction. Thus, no time is wasted during the reading process.

Reading in both directions, forward and backward, is an advanced technique that allows efficient speed readers to read twice as fast. Backward reading occurs when readers move (left to right) through a line of print and then move backwards (right to left) through the next line of print. There is no time wasted. Interestingly, it is generally easier to read backwards at a faster reading rate.


Business Information: Specialized text relating to business. Professional business people are particularly suitable for learning to improve reading skills and raising reading rates in order to deal with the pressures of their reading demands.


Common Reading Problems: Habits of inefficent readers. Most poor reading habits are derived from early training, usually involving wasted eye motions and other distractions (which also affect comprehension).


Comprehending the Text: Fully understanding the author's message in reading material. Efficient readers learn through understanding the text, the "meaning" behind the words, mainly by becoming sensitive to the words in their context. Efficient comprehension involves an ability to select and understand what is needed by the reader; retaining and recalling the selected information later; connecting and applying the new information to prior knowledge. The level of comprehension, therefore, depends largely on the background and experience of the reader, and the reader's ability to recognize, select and understand the information in the text.


Comprehension Practice Reading: Raising comprehension levels through reading practice. In the beginning of training to improve reading skills, comprehension sometimes is reduced during practice at high reading speeds. However, this is normal, and readers should continue trying to read faster. Comprehension levels will soon rise.


Decoding: Interpreting the words in reading material (encoded by the author), thereby receiving (decoding) the author's message.


Distractions: Tendencies affecting efficient reading. Most distractions occur when readers look away from the text, often because the text may not be sufficiently interesting for the reader. This also affects the reader's ability to concentrate and stay focused on the text. One helpful factor in staying focused is to use hand motions while reading, forcing the reading activity to continue in a smooth manner, regardless of distractions.

Important details can be overlooked by distractions while reading. Try to focus the mind on seeking out desired information from the text. A well-focused mind is able to comprehend information at high speeds.


Eye Pacers: Various methods of eye pacing. Patterns of eye movements are especially noted in skimming, when readers zig-zag down a page of text. Another pattern (led by a finger or pencil) is running down the middle of the page (using peripheral vision to "see" the words on either side of the center.

In the beginning of efforts to read faster, it is sometimes beneficial to use the hand or fingers as an eye pacer, forcing the eyes to scan the text at any speed desirable. However, this same technique could be habit-forming, and eventually limit an individual's potential reading speed. Good eye-hand coordination is one of the main factors in reading faster.


Eye-Span Trainer: A small hand-held machine (version of the tachistoscope) that trains the eyes to move in a varied span, taking in from two-to-eight words at one time. Material used by the Eye-Span Trainer is shown for controlled periods of time, generally one second, but capable of being as brief as one-hundredth of a second.


Familiarity with Subject Matter: Personal background of individual readers, a non-physical skill very important for comparing and contrasting current reading with previous literary experiences.


Familiarity with Text Vocabulary: A non-physical skill vital for efficient readers, who need large vocabularies to respond quickly to words in varied reading material.


Finger Motions: Using fingers to control or direct eye pacing while reading text. For finger motions, readers use their writing hand index finger to "underline" each line of print, forcing their eyes to follow this pattern down a page of text.


Fixations: The precise fractional moment when the eyes pause on a word or groups of words. It is when the eyes "fix" on an image and transmit that image to the brain, after which reading actually occurs.

As reading is actually done during fixations (pauses or stops of the eyes between eye spans), it is helpful in reading faster to reduce the number of fixations per line of print. Also, long stops or fixations tend to allow the mind to wander or daydream, thus causing readers to lose concentration. Successful rapid reading, therefore, involves learning how to achieve short fixations and fewer fixations.


Flasher: Piece of cardboard (or similar) with an oblong "window." Readers "flash" the card over the text, exposing a group of words through the window. Its main benefit for readers is widening their span of attention.


Flashmeter: An improved version of the tachistoscope, combining the Flashmeter with a lantern. The lantern provides light to project reading material on a screen, while the Flashmeter (with a spring principle), limits exposure of the material to a fraction of a second, as determined by the operator. The Flashmeter (manufactured by the Keystone View Company of Meadville, Pennsylvania) was used in the 1940s in elementary and high schools, and in reading clinics of colleges and universities, offering training in quick perception - valuable in raising levels of reading rates.


Flexibility in Reading Speeds: Varying reading speeds, according to the ease of difficulty of the reading material. Highly flexible reading is being able to skim, skip or read fast without losing the understanding of the text. Some factors for flexible reading include subject matter, word choices, sentence structures and vocabulary. Efficient speed readers might read novels at 800 words per minute, financial news at 1,000 words per minute, and newspaper articles at 1,500 words per minutes - all according to their own desires and purposes. Generally, reading purposes include: relaxation, self-enrichment, evaluation of ideas, and information only.

All reading speeds should be determined by the nature of the selected text, generally faster for "light" reading and perhaps slower for "heavy" reading. Varying the reading speed may depend on the reader's purpose, difficulty of the material, available time for reading the material, and familiarity of the subject matter. It is essential, in speed reading, to know when to vary the reading rate to ensure full comprehension of the material. Varied reading speeds also help to keep mentally alert, concentrate more when necessary, and increase speed overall.


Goals in Reading and Speed Reading: Reasons for learning to read more rapidly. Skill speed readers have learned that faster reading means better comprehension, improved concentration, and more retention of the reading material. Five factors that can improve reading skills: understanding the reading process; a desire to read faster; understanding the reasons behind slow reading; becoming acquainted with new and more efficient reading skills; and practicing newly learned techniques for speed reading. Most readers can benefit greatly from spending 15 minutes each day on techniques to raise their reading rates and reading efficiency.

More efficient and faster reading occurs by reading with purpose, reading for ideas, reading as much as possible, and reading with understanding. One goal in speed reading is for readers to always be trying to challenge themselves to do better. Dedicated practice towards reading faster can quickly double or triple "normal" reading rates - which can be retained and improved through regular practice of speed-reading techniques.


Hand Motions: Using the hand to control or direct eye pacing while reading text. For hand motions, readers use their writing hand to move down a page of text, forcing their eyes to follow the motion. Reading speeds vary according to the individual.

Reading speeds can be improved with hand motions, especially in the beginning of learning to read faster. Using the hand and fingers as a pacer will force the eyes to move down a page of text in a smooth rhythm. Interestingly, hand motions are helpful in improving both speed and comprehension, mainly because they help avert such reading distractions as regressions. Many readers using hand motions find that it is easier (and more logical) to use the left hand for the motion, keeping the right hand free to turn pages. Basically, hand motions are effective as a pacer until the eyes can continue the same motion efficiently with the same precision on their own, allowing the reader to read even faster.


Highlighting Selected Text: Marking selected information in the reading material. Some individuals underline and highlight certain pices of information as they read, which (if not properly evaluated) can produce too much underlining and highlighting.


Horizontal (Peripheral) Vision: Ability to perceive words on either side of a specific word in a line of print, as well as words above and below the line. With practice, many words beyond the focal point can be taken in during a single fixation. Peripheral vision and vertical vision reinforce the proven idea that, in speed reading, eye movements to the end of each line are unnecessary for efficient perception and comprehension of the text.


Interest in Reading Material: Intellectual curiosity of efficient readers, who often pursue reading to satisfy that curiosity. Reading interest, an important non-physical skill, also is helpful in maintaining good concentration.

Absorption of specialized information derived from reading material improves according to development of a reader's interests. Because of subject familiarity from past reading, the reader can concentrate on "new" ideas rather than spend too much time on ideas that are already familiar. An interest in reading material is usually an indication of the priorities and values of the reader, which naturally expand through more reading.


Interfixations: Moving from one fixation to another, the period between two fixations. Readers are not aware of any loss of visual sharpness during interfixation movements because their minds are dealing with after-images from the previous fixation, or pause in eye movements.


Learning Capacity: Abilities to achieve improvement in reading skills, including speed reading, greater comprehension, greater concentration, and better recall of information. With practice, most individuals can expect quick improvement in their reading skills. Mostly, this relies on desire, willingness, persistence and practice involving reading techniques.


Leisure Reading: Reading for pleasure. Most skillful readers enjoy reading quickly for information, but they also enjoy reading for pleasure, whether it be general magazines, novels, science fiction, mysteries, or short stories.


Lip Movements: Symptons of word-by-word reading. Lip moving is probably the most extreme form of subvocalization (inner speech). Since lip movers are so involved with the mechanics of pronunciation, they tend to read very slowly and comprehend very poorly.

Make an effort to be consciously aware of lip movements while reading, which are among the leading habits which prevent fast reading. Being aware, and trying to keep from making lip movements, will gradually help overcome the habit and allow individuals to read faster.


Margin Notes: Marking in the margins. In study reading, it is sometimes helpful to make brief notes or check marks in the margins to indicate important passages.


Memory: Ability of readers to retain, store and recall information. Efficient readers with good memory tend to possess both interest and motivation in their reading activities. Memory and comprehension, although related, are two different skills, which means that some readers may develop good comprehension skills at a different rate than memory skills.

One of the primary purposes for reading is to derive information, often to be retained and recalled at later times. Recollection upon demand is a critical skill for every reader. It is acknowledged that memory is perfect, but readers sometimes discover difficult in recalling important definitions and concepts from previous reading. One helpful hint, for some readers, is to make index cards with brief notes about specific information in the text.


Motivation in Reading: Reasons for pursuing self-improvement for improved reading skills. The desire for improvement is vital in all forms of communications skills, especially in reading. Self-improvement is an individual effort, effectively applied in developing the skills and attitudes that lead to faster and more efficient reading. The key factor is the individual's desire, which is a strong incentive in itself.

Readers are more efficient when they are motivated, which encourages greater interest, concentration and comprehension. Generally, readers who read with purpose are more efficient. Motivation in reading involves the desire to improve, knowing how to improve, and regular practice. Readers should also try to keep reading faster, motivating themselves to improve their reading skills.


Myths about Speed Reading: Mistaken beliefs about reading faster, sometimes serving as convenient reasons against improving reading skills. Some readers feel guilty if they skim and skip through the text, without reading every single word. Others believe it is necessary to finish the text, no matter how unnecessary or worthwhile to their purposes. Some feel that reading needs to be slow to be enjoyable. Other myths: everything needs to be remembered; skimming is not reading; technical material cannot be read quickly; reading is boring; reading requires long periods of time; re-reading is necessary when failing to concentrate or comprehend the material; reading slowly is "safe," preventing the possibility of missing something significant in the text. One of the biggest myths believed by some readers is that reading faster may cause a loss in comprehension. Studies have shown that comprehension, concentration, recall and retention all benefit from faster speed rates.


Normal Reading Speeds: Average reading rates for "normal" readers. Most untrained readers read at 250 words per minutes, about a sixth-grade reading rate, with about 70 percent comprehension (understanding) of the reading material. Some studies suggest that many people read at 20 to 25 percent of their potential ability.


Note-Taking: Making notes while reading. Note-taking is sometime beneficial for comprehension and retention. However, the notes relating to the text should not be taken as presented, but rather developed in the reader's own words and understanding of the material.


Passive Reading: Word assimilation without questioning the ideas or thinking of an author. Passive readers and thinkers simply move through reading material without any hint of applying the elements of active reading.


Perception Span: Interpreting and understanding reading material. A faster perception rate leads to faster reading and a wider perception span, due mainly to a reduction in the time required for readers to absorb words in the text. One leading factor in widening the perception span is for readers to increase their vocabularies, thereby recognizing words and phrases much quicker.

Expanding the perception span is a "natural" skill that can be achieved, improved and retained according to a reader's individual desires, purposes and efforts. Through progressive exercises in perception, readers are encouraged to read faster and understand more by moving through the text without slowing down to consider details. As the reading speeds up and the perception span widens, the mind tends to "bridge" the gaps and aid in comprehension. Perception span speed reading techniques, to be effective, also rely heavily on previewing the material, watching for main ideas, reviewing when necessary, and connecting facts and relationships of ideas.


Phrase Reading: Taking in wider groups of words, or phrases, in a fixation. One of the basic skills in speed reading is learning to read meaningful phrases within sentences. Phrase reading is especially helpful in reducing the number of fixations (eye-movement stops and starts) in reading material, thus allowing more rapid reading of the text. There are times when phrases in confusing passages may need re-reading, though this is a tendency to be reserved for occasional use only. In addition, phrase reading is more efficient when the reader becomes more conscious of "units of meaning" in the sentences.


Power Drills: A process of developing abilities for better comprehension and recall. With power drills, readers can reach higher efficiency levels of comprehension and recall. As one example, readers can choose a text selection, read for one minute, close the book, and then (for another minute or so) try to recall what was read. This is a process that can be repeated several times into the selected book.


Previewing: Determining the essence and importance of the selected text before reading. Previewing helps readers decide their methods of reading (slow or fast) for the text. It includes skimming and skipping, and looking for main concepts, ideas and keywords.

Readers should determine quickly if there is a good reason or purpose for reading a book. This can be done easily (and quickly) through previewing, which includes skimming through the table of contents, foreword, introduction and index. Previewing also includes reading biographical information about the author, reviewer comments and endorsements by recognize authorities.


Progressions: Looking forward in the text before reading it. Some readers sometimes look ahead in the text while reading (which isn't the same as previewing). Looking ahead at pictures, photographs or words usually disrupts the flow of the reading, costing valuable time for the reader.


Push-Down Drills: A process of increasing reading rates and raising comprehension. In a push-down drill, readers choose their text, read for one minute and put a paper clip where they stop reading. In the next phase, readers try to read the same selected material in fifty seconds, then forty seconds, and faster in subsequent readings.


Push-Up Drills: A process of increasing reading speed. In a push-up drill, readers choose their text, read for one minute and put a paper clip where they stop reading. In subsequent readings, the idea is to read the selected text as fast as possible (without concern for comprehension).


Questioning the Reading Material: A significant factor in determining the ideas of an author. Efficient readers often skim the text, looking for main ideas, and then forming questions to help concentrate their thinking regarding those ideas. With questioning, readers develop ideas related to the material, helping them focus on the most important information in the text.


Rapid Reading Potential: Ability to read faster and more efficiently. With practice in speed reading, most individuals can double, triple or quadruple their reading rates without any adverse effect on their comprehension. In fact, studies show that comprehension and concentration usually improves with faster reading.


Reading Abilities: The basic communication skills of readers, varying widely according to early training and efforts towards improvement. Reading abilities are vital in the transmission of messages between individuals as a major aspect of the communication process.


Reading and Speed Reading Efficiency: Skillful levels of reading habits relating to speed reading. Most readers can improve their reading efficiency through diligent practice, thereby reducing wasted time and effort in failing to change poor reading habits. Characteristics of efficent readers include: fewer fixations (pauses or stops whle reading), regular (rhythmical) eye movements, and fewer regressions (backward fixations). With training, readers can improve their reading efficiency by realizing that reading is concerned only with ideas (not just words); that main ideas are more important than minor ideas; and that it is important to fine the main idea as quickly as possible. Skillful and efficent speed readers have learned to "condense" the process of gathering and sorting information in reading material in order to understand (comprehend) and determine the relevant "meaning" (as it applies to their individual interests and purposes).

Reading improvement may be slow in the beginning, but tends to occur (almost unexpectedly) after a period of training to read faster. Most readers make good progress in reading improvement skills after achieving success through drills and exercises in skimming, anticipation, organizations, attitudes, memory, phased reading, and general practice. Fast readers are efficient readers, easily achieving their purposes in reading.


Reading Machines: Pacing devices to help readers proceed at even speeds, especially efficient in preventing regressions (re-reading text unnecessarily). Reading Pace Accelerators were examples of popular reading machines. Another reading machine was a cabinet with a built-in screen (like a small television set). Film would be placed in the cabinet and the text projected line by line onto the screen with varied speeds, as controlled by the reader. Another alternative, developed by Harvard University, including reading films projected onto a large screen, allowing participation by several readers at the same time. The films varied in their presentation of reading speeds, generally from two fixations per line (for fast readers) to five fixations per line (for slow readers). Reading machines have been popular in schools and speed-reading courses because they are enjoyable for participants and because they stimulate some individuals to achieve significant initial gains in reading efficiency. More recently, videocassettes and computer software programs have proven to be user-friendly and more convenient in helping to boost reading speeds.

Some skills can be aided by reading machines, and they can be easily transferred from screen to print. Periodic practice with reading machines can be helpful, a significant factor in the process of learning to read faster.


Reading Pace Accelerators: A class of reading machines designed to set the pace or otherwise control reading speed. As a table-top machine, they were operated by applying an opaque sheet or bar that could be lowered at varied time rates over printed pages of a book or magazine placed on a sloped platform. In addition, they could be speeded up or slowed down according to the purpose of the reader.


Reading Process: The process of reading, as experienced by all readers. Although reading itself is actually intellectual, it also involves such physical elements as eye movements (fixations and interfixation movements). Reading, in general, is a process requiring recognition (symbols and letters in the text); assimilation (receiving and transmitting images to the brain); comprehension (making sense of the information); understanding (connecting the received information with prior knowledge); retention (storage of the information); recall (ability to get needed information from storage); and communication (using the information in actions or thinking). As described by many reading experts, the reading process is often the agreement or disagreement of the author's ideas by the readers (as opposed to passive acceptance of reading material). Thus, the reading process is actually a process of discrimination in which readers select certain information from the text while discarding other (un-needed) information.


Regressions: Backward fixations during the reading process. Regressions can be conscious or unconcious. A conscious regression occurs during the re-reading of a difficult passage in the text. An unconscious regression occurs when the reader looks back at words unnecessarily. This often happens when a reader lacks confidence in comprehension. It is one of the most common of poor reading habits learned in early training.

Reading words again, or backward eye movements, are regressions, which slow down a reader's speed. Regressions are unnecessary and inefficient, and interfere with the logical sequence of reading material. The tendency to regress is often the result of early training in learning how to read. Reading speeds can be increased significantly by eliminating or reducing regressions, which can result by simply being aware of the habit and trying to overcome it through conscious effort.


Retention of Reading Material: Remembering important ideas from the selected text. Efficient readers determine the "meaning" of the material, which they retain in their own "inner language" and recall easily when necessary or desired. Retention is a reading skill which can be improved greatly with practice.


Return Eye Sweeps: Return Eye Sweeps - The smooth flow of a reader's eyes from one line of text to the next line of text. The smoother the flow of return eye sweeps, the more quickly the reader is able to read.

Movements of the eyes going from the end of one line of text to the beginning of the next line are return eye sweeps. To be efficient, return eye sweeps should be very rapid, rhythmic and smooth. Newspaper or magazine articles in columns are good for practicing to achieve fast and smooth return eye sweeps.


Saccades (fixation to fixation): The movements between fixations, sometimes referred to as "saccadic movements" or "interfixation movements." Saccades are often jerky and erratic, instead of smooth.


Slow Readers: Inefficient reading levels experienced by unskilled readers (sometimes called "poor" readers). Slow readers are usually adversely affected by inefficient factors such as jerky eye motions, unnecessary regressions and faulty returns sweeps (moving from line to line in the text). In general, slow readers do not fully trust their abilities to comprehend, causing them to read each word in the text instead of trying to grasp the main ideas of the author. Put another way, slow readers often strive to detect every detail in the text instead of moving quickly through the material to determine and understand basic concepts.


Space Reading: Focusing just above a line of print in reading material. By lifting the focus of the eyes above the line, and allowing them to relax slightly, readers can "spread" their vision to take in entire groups of words at one time.


Special Interests: Individual or personal purposes in reading. Special interests or purposes to be considered by readers should include: knowledge of the subject; determining why the book is being read; making a quick overview; previewing the book; looking at the book content more closely; and reviewing the book upon completion of the reading. Mainly, efficient reading depends on knowing one's reading needs, knowing why certain books are important, and determining if the book needs to be read in more detail.


Speed Reading Comprehension: Remembering important ideas derived from faster reading of reading materials. Studies show that faster reading rates produce greater comprehension. Some tips for reading faster with more comprehension: preview the selected text; read with a purpose; read at a comfortable level for understanding; and read for "new" information (to add to prior knowledge). In addition, efficient comprehending is reinforced when readers apply their "new" information in thinking, communicating with others or pursuing similar reading materials of a more difficult nature.


Speed Reading Exercises: Drills to improve levels of speed reading. Skillful speed readers, after learning new and more efficient reading habits, must continue to work on reading faster. The newly learned reading skills can be applied to all types of reading material. Regular practice is especially effective with new material, which can then be used for speeded-up second readings.


Structural Analysis: Determining essential information from the structure of the reading passage. Reading for information, for instance, involves seeking answers to the who, what, when, where and why of the passage.


Study Reading: Preparing for examinations in academic courses. Study reading, which involves considerable re-reading, usually means reading at a very slow speed. This is deliberate, to allow careful consideration of ideas, facts and details relating to the text.

Productive skimming of the selected book or books is vital in study reading, which generally requires seeking information needed for temporary retention (for instructors, clients or employers). Skim first for specific information related to the learning objective, perhaps making occasional margin notes. After skimming, read the book more carefully, always with the purpose in mind.


Subvocalization: Using vocal muscles without making sounds. Subvocalization, sometimes referred to as "auditory reassurance," occurs when readers say the words to themselves while reading. No sound occurs, but the vocal cords of the reader are nevertheless experiencing the motions of orally sounding out the words. It is known that all readers subvocalize to some degree, but it is considered bad habit when it occurs more than occasionally.

Try to avoid any throat movement to form the words while reading. This sort of inner speech slows down the reading speed.


Summarizing: Reforming text ideas into a summary. Some readers recall ideas more efficiently by summarizing a selected text in their own words. Summaries should be brief, maybe only one or two sentences. In books or long articles, brief summaries could be developed at the end of each page or chapter.

In reading difficult subject matter, such as technical materials, it is helpful to make brief summaries of selected text. This also helps to improve comprehension and memory.


Tachistoscope: An instrument that flashes a group of words onto a screen for a fraction of a second, encouraging rapid recognition and helping to widen a reader's span of attention. It was developed successful during World War II for aircraft recognition by Army and Navy pilots. Basically, the tachistoscope helps readers approach their limits of peripheral span by increasing the eye span and decreasing the length of eye fixations. In addition, it forces readers to grasp material quickly, with little or no hesitation, and as a "whole" image (such as a word phrase). Historically, the tachistoscope was invented thousands of years ago in Greece, designed to help individuals read their scrolls more quickly.


Technical Information: Detailed reading materials. The level of responsibility for readers in much higher for technical information than for other types of reading materials. This is because there is more detailed information per page and the subsequent responsiblity of having to do something with the material upon completing the reading process.


Testing Reading Levels: Measuring the reading rates by calculated methods. One easy method of determining the reading rate (words per minute) is to read for one minute, count the lines read during the one-minute period, and multiply the number of lines by ten (the average number of words per line). For instance, reading thirty lines in one minute translates into a reading speed of 300 words per minute.


Thought Units: Groupings of words according to content, rather than simply a number of words. The idea with thought units is to perceive "thoughts" in the text, connecting these thought units to each other, regardless of the number of words involved int the word groups. Reading in thought units requires considerable flexibility for readers, due to the varied eye movements needed to perceive, interpret and understand the varied lengths of the thoughts. In general, the technique of consciously reading in thought units requires devoted concentration to a grasp of the ideas and thinking of the author.

Widening the eye span allows readers to take in groups of words as well as thought units, which focus on understanding the ideas and thinking of an author. This technique involves flexibility in eye movements (for various lengths of thought units) and requires good concentration to grasp the author's ideas. The idea is to read one thought after another, regardless of how many words may be in a particular thought unit. Reading by thought units is generally faster, since there is little wasted time considering minor details in the selected text.


Understanding Reading Material: Comprehending ideas in the text. In reading, ideas are more important than individual words. Efficient readers are able to comprehend efficiently by understanding the "whole," the main idea, the message of the author. Good comprehension includes such important factors as concentration, critical evaluation of the reading material, the reader's purpose, ability to retain and recall information from the material, and appropriate reading speeds for the selected text.


Vertical Vision: Ability (usually in skimming) of readers to extend their vision to a wider view of words and lines while moving through reading material. The reader makes full use of vertical vision by maintaining an "open" attention on the text, as opposed to concentrating on reading the material at a normal rate.


Vocalization: Mouthing the words while reading. Vocalizers, sometimes called "motor readers," accompany their reading by sounding out the words as they read. The tendency of vocalizers is to concentrate on specific words, believing it is necessary for memory. While vocalizing may help memory to some degree, it slows down reading speeds considerably (to oral reading levels).

One of the most common bad reading habits is vocalization, or saying the words while reading. This slows down reading levels to speaking levels. Vocalizing of any nature, such as lip movements or quietly forming the words with vocal cords, is unnecessary and should be eliminated or reduced in order to read faster and more efficiently.


Word Groups: The number of words perceived during a fixation. Early reading habits often lead to the "normal" perception of up to four words, which slows down reading speed. To read faster, it is vital to absorb large numbers of words at each fixation, thereby reducing the number of fixations or pauses during the reading process. Readers who see large word groups gain more meaning from the words, and read faster because they also perceive the word groups in terms of ideas and thoughts (thought units) instead of slowing down to interpret the words individually.

Entire groups of words can be "seen" at a glance, even though the eyes are in constant motion. The more words that can be seen in one glance, or fixation, the faster the reading speed. Try to grasp words in phrases or thought units in order to better understand an author's ideas. In this way, reading speeds will be faster and comprehension will be better.


Word Recognition: Identifying "new" words and easily recalling familiar words. Several methods can be used to learn about new words, including context, form, structural analysis and phonetic analysis.

Reading is a process involving recognition of symbols, such as numbers, letters and words. Readers who quickly recognize these symbols are able to read faster than those who spend time on words that are already familiar. With training and practice, efficient readers see the first few letters of a word and move on quickly because they have comprehended the entire word.


Word-by-Word Reading: Reading one word at time, one word after another. The visible and audible signs of word-by-word reading include finger-pointing, head-moving, lip-moving and vocalization.

One of the common poor reading habits to be overcome is reading word by word, or one word at a time. With practice, readers can expand their visual span to see several words at one time, or even an entire line at one glance, thereby speeding up their reading rates.


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