VOICE FROM THE SOUTH
By FR. EMETERIO BARCELON, SJ
There are several speeds in reading, just as there are different ways of locomotion. If you only know how to walk and nothing else, you would be giving up a lot of possibilities. You can run or you can ride a car or ride a banca or even ride a plane or a helicopter. It depends on the purpose you have for moving from one place to another. So also in reading, it depends on the purpose you have for reading. You may want to see the plants and smell the flowers, so you walk. But it you are going to school or to your office you need to use a car.
So also in reading .You may want to savor the beauty of words in a poem so you go slowly but if you are studying a subject, you go a little faster. This is the speed many people all over the world use, somewhere around 250 words per minute. But if you are reading a newspaper only for the news you normally read only the headlines. So it depends on the purpose of the reading. If you go to a library there are thousands of books you want to read and therefore you cannot use the study speed alone. In reading a novel you should use at least 500 wpm or you will not savor the objective the author wants you to enjoy.
There are people who can read at 2,000 wpm. And this is an objective that few can do. If you can, then good for you. There are even people with photographic memories so that they can look at a page and have it imprinted in their minds. I witnessed President Marcos given a speech of 20 pages which he scanned for 15 minutes and then he delivered the speech word for word without looking at the script. These are extraordinary people. But here we only aim at having speeds of at least 500 wpm. At this rate we can enjoy a novel.
One rule in speed reading is that you must train our eyes to go from left to right and follow a very important rule: You must not go back or regress. If you regress, you cannot have a speed of over 150 wpm. Then you must train yourself to read at 500 wpm. This can be done by reading at this speed for about a half hour for a week or two. There will be little comprehension at first. If you do this practice for two weeks you will see that the comprehension will catch up. It is a question of forcing yourself to practice for a couple of weeks. There are programs that help you at a price but you do not need them you can do it by yourself.
At the start of the program you have to measure your normal reading speed and record it. Then practice speeding up to at least 500 wpm in reading a novel. If you follow the rule of no regression and force yourself at this rate you will soon have comprehension… Try it for two weeks and I guarantee you will be happy with the results.
I repeal that you must determine first the purpose of the reading. You do not use this speed for study or reading a legal document. But you need this speed to enjoy a novel. And you can do it if you just try.