With an almost infinite amount of information constantly at our fingertips, it helps to be able to read quickly—or at least at a decent clip. Although we may not think of what we do as “reading” in a traditional sense, many TikTok videos and Instagram reels have subtitles and captions, so even if you don’t actually pick up a book, you’re still reading something.
If you’ve never been the fastest reader, you may still find yourself struggling to keep up. But, as we’ve pointed out in a previous Lifehacker article, there are ways to pick up a bit of speed, like cutting down on subvocalization. And, as it turns out, there are a few ways to do that. Here’s what to know.
What is subvocalization?
So what exactly is subvocalization? Basically, it means that when you’re reading silently, you say each full word in your head as you go. And while subvocalizing does tend to slow you down as you read, it also has some benefits, too, including improving reading comprehension, and leaving a stronger impression of what you just read in your short-term memory.
How to stop subvocalizing
Benefits aside, if your primary goal is to read faster, cutting back on subvocalization may help with that. Here are three methods you can try, courtesy of Melissa Baron of Book Riot:
- Scan the page before reading it carefully: It’s natural to subvocalize when we come across unfamiliar words, so keep an eye out for them in a quick initial scan of the page so you can sound them out—or look them up—without it slowing you down.
- Distract yourself: Chew gum or snack on something to keep your mouth busy, which should help stop yourself from mouthing words as you read. Or, listen to instrumental music so you concentrate on that, and not sounding out the words you read in your head.
- Keep your eyes focused: Skipping around the page—as we tend to do when we encounter a word we don’t know—not only slows us down in general, but also often leads to subvocalizing. Instead, place your finger, a ruler, or piece of paper directly under the line you’re reading to help keep your place.