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Can you read an entire novel in less than an hour? In 2007, Anne Jones, a retired teacher from Northumberland in the United Kingdom proved to everybody that she can. She was able to read “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in a record-breaking 47 minutes and one second. The JK Rowling book is composed of 198,227 words, which means Anne read 4,251 words a minute! Most humans can read around 220 to 300 words a minute. Is Anne then a super human? No, Anne Jones is a normal person like us, but she has an extraordinary skill in speed reading.

Speed reading is a technique to improve one’s ability to read quickly. It is a faster and more efficient reading approach, while still understanding what is being read. Speed reading engages the eyes, ears, mouth, and brain even more than normal reading. It is reading and understanding many words in a single glance. In speed reading, readers use their peripheral vision to expand their gaze and see blocks of words instead of one distinct unit. Speed reading is also silent reading. Unlike normal reading where you speak words to yourself aloud or in your head, readers are trained to read not at the speed that they talk but at the speed that they think. Speed reading also requires more attention and concentration. Speed readers must see and read the words on the page, detect the author’s main ideas, and focus on the gist of the reading materials.

Speed reading has many advantages. It is helpful, especially when students have to read a thick textbook, a technical report, or an instruction manual. Unlike the traditional way of reading word by word that is slow and arduous, students can save time and effort if they practice speed reading. Through speed reading, it will not take students all day in reading and understanding lengthy and extensive passages. Speed reading also increases reading comprehension and enhances vocabulary. Because speed reading requires reading several words at a time, students are trained to pick up the meaning of words through context clues. In this way, the size of their vocabulary and general knowledge expands.

Speeding reading is a useful and valuable skill that teachers can teach to students. It is not just for geniuses. Any person can have this skill through discipline and practice. So if you want to be a six-time World Champion Speed Reader like Anne Jones or if you just want to grasp information better and faster, improve your skills through speed reading.

AHEAD Junior offers Speed Reading Programs for young readers. For more information, email junior@ahead.edu.ph

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