Category Archives: Language and words

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Theme Reveal 2021

Ill-fitting grammar are like ill-fitting shoes. You can get used to it for a bit, but then one day your toes fall off and you can’t walk to the bathroom. ~Jasper Fforde

As the image conjured by the above quote lingers in my mind – and perhaps yours too – allow me to introduce my theme for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2021 Theme Badge

I prefer having a theme and create content around it – it makes it so much easier to focus my research and writing.

For this year’s challenge, I’m focusing on grammar and the common glitches that trip writers up. As a second-language English speaker, I include myself in this description.

I started to learn English at the age of nine. Before that, I spoke only Portuguese. I dedicated myself to this new language and was a top student both at school and at university where I majored in English Literature.

English grammar is not easy to master, even for first-language speakers and writers. It is with that in mind that I dedicate this year’s A to Z Challenge to the common glitches that tend to trip writers up. My aim is to make the articles informative and fun.

So join me on this journey into the marvellous and oft-times confusing English grammar.

So Many Books, Too Little Time – On Speed Reading

Some years ago I did a course on speed reading. I am a naturally fast reader, but to read even faster was something I wanted to learn. I mean there are so many books out there I want to read.

The thing with speed reading is that it’s a technique that needs practice – much like a muscle needs constant work to keep its shape.

Using your peripheral vision

Thomas Oppong, founder @Alltopstartups writes in his article How to Teach Yourself to Read an Entire Book in a Single Day about learning to use your peripheral vision. This was one of the things I was taught to do in the course, which is the core idea behind speed reading.

“Using your peripheral vision allows you to read with fewer eye fixations because your vision span is wider and you can see, read, and process more words at a time.” (Thomas Oppong)

This helps you to read in clumps, which is “a collection of 4 to 16 adjacent words that you read in a single glance. When you read in clumps, you naturally increase your speed because you can’t slow down to vocalize (speak or hear the words as you read them).”

What is subvocalisation?

The reason we don’t read fast is that we’re verbalising the individual words in our minds as we read them. This is called subvocalisation, “or silent speech, is the internal speech typically made when reading; it provides the sound of the word as it is read.[1][2] This is a natural process when reading and it helps the mind to access meanings to comprehend and remember what is read, potentially reducing cognitive load.[3] This inner speech is characterized by minuscule movements in the larynx and other muscles involved in the articulation of speech.” (Wikipedia).

A good technique to learn to read in clumps is to run your finger across the sentences as you read them. Forget what teachers told in school – running your finger across the sentences does work, and you’ll see your speed increase as you’re taking in the clumps of words. This simple act helps you focus on what you’re reading and you’ll naturally start to engage your peripheral vision. Eventually, you’ll not need to do this anymore.

But what about comprehension?

Much of the criticism for speed reading rests on how much you retain or comprehend when speed reading,  and personal preferences to savour each word, idea or concept as they’re read.

Thorin Klosowski says in his article The Truth About Speed Reading that it is “a skill peddled by supposed experts” and goes on to take a look at different methods.

He writes about skimming (glancing through text looking for the parts to read), metaguiding (as mentioned above, using your finger to help you focus) and Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (where “single words flash on the screen so you’re concentrating on a single word at a time”).

He ends off by saying:

“Personally, I’ve tried all the above methods, and they’re too exhausting for me. It takes a lot of focus and mental effort to speed read, and when you do it you’re missing out on information. I like the fact that when I’m reading a book or article I can take a few moments to pause and think about an idea. With speed reading, these moments are gone. I might consume a ton of information, but I don’t feel like I actually process it. That defeats the purpose of reading for me.” (Thorin Klosowksi)

My fit-for-purpose reading techniques

Ultimately it is about you, and what you prefer, like a fit-for-purpose reading technique. For example, I use my peripheral vision for emails, skim documents because they carry a lot of ‘gumpfh’ to get to the real meaty stuff, I deliberately slow down to savour each word when reading my favourite authors, and I take notes and use sketching techniques when I want to connect with, interpret and apply what I’m reading.

Example of a sketchnote I took 
©2018 Regina Martins

So, dear reader, what reading techniques do you use and are they context specific?