Want To Read Faster? Stop Saying The Words In Your Head As You Read

Want To Read Faster? Stop Saying The Words In Your Head As You Read

When you read, do you hear the words in your mind or even subconsciously say them under your breath? Break this one habit — called subvocalisation — and you can double or even triple your reading speed.

Photo by Gordon

When you say the words as you read them, you can’t read any faster than you can talk.

Spreeder, a web app that teaches speed reading, offers this tip to quiet the little voice in our heads that slows us down when we read: Keep your mouth occupied.

One simple way is to preoccupy your mouth. When you give your mouth something else to do while you read, you can disengage the speech mechanism in the brain, allowing what your read to go straight to your conscious awareness rather than being slowed down by your brain needing to figure out how to say the words first.

So chew some gum, hum, or eat lunch while reading and you may find yourself going through a lot of reading material like never before.

How to Read Faster by Eliminating Subvocalization [Spreeder]


  • I’ve been doing this for some time (when I actually remember to that is). I just say a really long “L” the whole time, but obviously without putting any voice to it.

    It works really well, but I often read too fast and defeat the purpose by having to re-read sentences. I guess I need some more practice.

  • as far as i remember, i never read with a voice in my head unless i force it.

    i didn’t realise there would be a speed difference, although that does explain why i always seemed to finish school work a lot faster then other kids. still remember being accused of not doing the work or skipping chapters in english class :/

  • Yep, can definitely vouch for this advice. Our brains can read and understand a lot faster than we can actually speak or form words as sound. Will have to try eating while reading.

    Found an app for my phone (WordStreamer, FWIW) that addresses the other thing that slows down your reading: the movement of your eyes. With practice I can read for bursts at 480 WPM (Sherlock Holmes stories, haven’t tried anything really heavy) which is bloody great for powering through a story without skimming.

  • Not being able to hear a voice in your bead when you read is a sign of Dyslexia.
    And I read a lot faster in my head than I do outloud. When I read in my head, its effortless and flawless but if I read outloud I mess up a lot.
    I also read this in my head.

  • I’ve always subvocalized, so now I know why It takes me so long to read a book. I’m going to try the occupying my mouth trick but I hate chewing gum, so there must be a better way. The big problem for me is that I visualise everything so it’s going to be hard not to see the words in my head. This is a very interesting article though.

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