It is said that time is money. Many people claim that they would do many things that they do not do if they had time. For example, read more. In order to take advantage of those ideas and desires of so many people, towards the end of the 1950s came the so-called rapid reading techniques. It helps you to be a good leader in all sectors. In recent times, online courses and applications for mobile phones and tablets that promise to help achieve this have created a kind of boom. But how much is true in these courses? Do they work, or are they closer to being a scam than anything else?
Rapid reading techniques
There are undoubted people who read very fast. Really fast. The British Anne Jones holds the mark of having won six times the World Rapid Reading Championship. In 2015 he made a public reading of the book Go and Put a Sentinel, the second novel by the author of Killing a Mockingbird, Harper Lee. To finish the book, which has about 300 pages, it took 25 and a half minutes.
Another of his exploits was having read, in 2007, the seventh volume of the Harry Potter saga in just 47 minutes, at the disconcerting speed of 4,251 words per minute. The normal reading speed, on average, is about 250 words per minute. This means that Anne Jones is capable of multiplying by 17 the normal rhythm, even that of a good reader. With these figures, Woody Allen’s old joke – “I did a quick reading course and I read War and Peace in twenty minutes, I think he talks about Russia” – it becomes almost a manners phrase.
And Jones’ is not the only case, of course. The Spaniard Ramón Campayo won eight times the world fast memory championship and has several records in that area, such as memorizing a 40-digit binary number in a second or having remembered the position of almost 500 words from a list of 23,200 that had not been seen (they had been dictated for 72 hours). Beyond these improbable skills, Campayo reads more than 2,500 words per minute and has written seven-day manuals to learn languages, in addition to a definitive Quick Reading Course (FASD, 2009).
Delete errors to read faster
Rapid or agile reading techniques are based on leaving aside supposed mistakes that readers make and that cause them to spend an excessive amount of time in front of the pages. Felipe Bernal Montes, responsible for the website LecturaAgil.com, lists 21 errors, which are divided between those of the basic reading and those of the advanced reader.
The first group is composed of:
- Silabear or fragment the words.
- Skip lines.
- Move the head to accompany the reading.
- Vocalize the sounds that are read, either loudly or mentally.
These issues, according to Bernal, prevent reaching the normal average of 250 words per minute.
Among the errors of the advanced reader, meanwhile, are:
An excess of ocular fixations: stop the sight in each word that is read and not in the blocks of text. Go back and reread for lack of concentration.
Not knowing what it is read for; for Bernal, knowing what you want to learn is the key to reading a text faster. Do not pre-warm-up like an athlete-before a long reading or study session.
In theory, eradicating these errors of the advanced reader is what allows to leave behind the average of 250 words per minute and reach the thousand or go even further. And this is achieved, for example, by reducing the number of eye fixations: the goal is that the same fix allows you to capture not a word, but a set of words, even whole paragraphs.
On the other hand, Bernal says that “slow reading does not keep the brain busy enough, so it starts thinking about anything, except what we are reading.” This deconcentration creates a kind of vicious circle, since it slows down reading even more.
Concentration and vocabulary, keys in reading
Rapid reading techniques ” have always worked normally well”, explains Manuel Martín-Loeches, director of the departmental section of Psychobiology and member of the Mixed Center of Evolution and Human Behavior, composed of experts from the Complutense University of Madrid and the Institute of Psychology. Health Carlos III. “They are not a panacea, but they can be recommended, they are techniques that improve performance, in addition to helping to focus on reading and not wandering, which helps to be more efficient.”
Martín-Loeches highlights a point where, in general, the quick reading methods hardly insist: the vocabulary. “Know the meaning of the words is essential for -apunta- reading, and it takes less time to access the meaning if the word is co n ocida and is used quite often. The unknown slow reading in all cases”. Therefore, some techniques advise stopping and searching the dictionary whenever the meaning of a term is not known. Although this delays the reading in the first instance, the long-term effect will be, say its cultures, the opposite.
Can the quick reader access any or do they need to comply with certain requirements? It is open to everyone, explains Martín-Loeches, “except for some cases with disorders related to language, such as dyslexia.” Anyway, adds the specialist, “even in these cases the practice would lead to positive results.” In addition, as it is an “acquired skill”, the practice is fundamental: without practice, efficiency would be lost.
The limits of quick reading
Companies that teach fast reading courses list advantages that go far beyond making better use of time: they talk about getting job promotions or starting a successful business of their own, improving their relationship or adopting healthy eating habits. In what way? What they argue is that by reading faster, the person can acquire much more knowledge through books to improve in all these areas. In fact, as has already been pointed out, Ramón Campayo has published books about how to learn languages such as English or German in just one week.
However, a team of researchers from the United States has conducted various tests to check the effectiveness of the rapid reading methods and their conclusions are a call for caution. The work, published last year in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, affirms that there are no “magic formulas” to increase the speed of reading and that the increase of that speed has consequences in what the reader will understand and remember what you read.
“It is unlikely,” says the document, “that people will be able to double or triple their reading speed – that is, take it from 250 to 500 or 700 words per minute – and that, at the same time, they will still be able to understand the text. just as they do when reading at normal speed. ” The researchers point out that, in certain scenarios, a loss in understanding in exchange for speed is tolerable and even advisable.
This occurs, for example, when the general content of the text is already known, but a specific piece of information that is included in it is searched. But this is not normal. In most cases, reading at normal speed is necessary to understand the text and acquire information, and it is often necessary to reread previous fragments to ensure adequate understanding. In any case, scientists suggest reading and propose to acquire new vocabulary, as a way to gain speed without losing understanding.
On the other hand, one of the goals of reading is still to get pleasure, and one wonders if the pleasure of a novel of 300 pages like Go and Put a Sentinel, by Harper Lee, is the same if you enjoy at the normal pace that if it reads in 25 minutes. To propose to apply rapid reading techniques in this way is, of course, the decision of each one.