How Can I Improve My Reading Speed and Comprehension?
Posted by Erica Warren on
There are all sorts of companies that are trying to sell “speed reading” programs and a “quick comprehension fix.” I often evaluate these products, and I continually find them, too good to be true. What I do know, as a seasoned reading specialist, and educational therapist, is there is not a single solution that serves every struggling reader. So why is this and what can you do?
Why Does the Solution to Improved Reading Differ Across Individuals?
The secret to improving both reading speed and comprehension depends on a number of factors. First, what are the cognitive weaknesses that are causing the reading difficulties? These deficits need to be remediated through individualized support and accommodated with assistive technology tools. Second, what are the cognitive strengths of the learner? By tapping into these abilities, struggling readers can develop compensatory strategies or workarounds. Third, one must consider individual preferences. This may include visual choices such as font size, color, and word spacing, or auditory options such as audiobooks read by people or synthesized voices.
How Do Excellent Readers Read?
There are numerous core skills that must be done simultaneously to be an excellent reader. Yes, outstanding readers multi-task, and each of these duties is developed to a point of automaticity. In other words, one needs to be able to do a few skills simultaneously without thinking about it. So, what are the core skills that need to be developed to this degree of mastery, and how can I address these issues?
|Core Skills||Strategies for Improvement|
|Auditory processing and decoding of words and chunks of text (phonemic awareness) - instead of sounding out the individual sounds that make up a word, the brain must get to the point that chunks of text are quickly processed into meaning.||
|Tracking and visual processing - helps us follow a line of print without losing our place. In school, if a child cannot track from word to word smoothly, accurately, and efficiently, reading suffers, comprehension drops, and meaning becomes compromised.||
|Visualization - refers to our ability to create pictures in our heads when reading or listening. It is one of many skills that help us comprehend and remember information.||
|Attention - refers to our ability to focus while reading. It plays a critical role in reading speed and comprehension.||
|Speed of Processing - refers to the pace at which visual and auditory information is understood.||
|Verbal Reasoning and Vocabulary - refers to one’s ability to reason with and make sense of written language.||
What to Do If You are Looking for an Affordable Fix:
Clearly, an affordable fix to improving reading speed and comprehension is to use audiobooks while reading along or visualizing the content. If you want to take it up a notch, use the app Voice Dream Reader and set up Pac-Man Mode to train the brain to track in a fluid manner.
Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren
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