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Speed Reading Tips: 11 Ways To Minimize Subvocalization

How To Overcome Subvocalization

Imagine this: You’re sitting down with a good book, eager to dive into a new adventure or learn something new. 

As you start reading, you find yourself “hearing” the words in your head, reading each one individually and at a snail’s pace. It’s like there’s a little voice inside your head, narrating the story or the text.

This little voice is called subvocalization, and it can slow down your reading speed and hinder your comprehension. 

But there’s a way to silence that voice and speed up your reading!

By minimizing subvocalization, you can read through texts at a faster pace and improve your overall reading experience. 

In this article, we’ll explore 11 powerful techniques to help you do just that. 

These techniques will help you take your reading skills to the next level and allow you to fully immerse yourself in the world of books and learning.

Subvocalization is the act of silently pronouncing each word as you read it, using your inner voice. While subvocalization is a natural part of the reading process for many people, it can slow down the pace of your reading and limit your comprehension.

When you subvocalize, your brain is essentially working twice as hard to process the information, as it’s interpreting both the visual information on the page and the auditory information in your mind.

However, subvocalization can also have its benefits

  • Subvocalization can aid in language learning, as it helps with pronunciation and comprehension of new words.

There are also techniques that can be used to reduce subvocalization while reading, such as skimming and scanning for key information, or using a finger or pointer to guide your eyes along the text. 

These techniques can help to increase reading speed and improve comprehension, while still allowing for the benefits of subvocalization to be utilized.

The Science of Reading: How the Brain Processes Information

To better understand the impact of subvocalization, let’s take a quick look at how the brain processes information while reading. 

When you read, light enters your eyes and is transformed into electrical signals, which are then sent to the visual center of your brain.

This center processes the visual information into the recognizable letters and words you see on the page. From there, the information is sent to the language centers of your brain, where it’s processed and understood.

Recent studies have shown that the brain also uses a process called prediction to aid in reading comprehension. As you read, your brain makes predictions about what will come next based on the context and previous information. 

This helps to fill in gaps and make connections between ideas, leading to a deeper understanding of the text. 

However, if subvocalization is slowing down the reading process, it can disrupt this prediction process and hinder comprehension.

The Negative Effects of Subvocalization on Reading Speed and Comprehension

The problem with subvocalization is that it slows down the pace of your reading and makes it more difficult to comprehend complex material. 

When you’re subvocalizing, your brain is essentially processing each word twice – once visually and once auditorily. This slows down the overall speed of your reading, and can make it difficult to retain information over longer stretches of text.

Subvocalization can also lead to fatigue and eye strain, as your eyes are constantly moving back and forth across the page to keep up with the slower pace of reading.

This can be especially problematic for individuals who need to read large volumes of text for work or school. 

In order to improve reading speed and comprehension, it’s important to practice techniques that help reduce subvocalization, such as skimming and scanning for key information, and using visual aids like diagrams and charts to supplement written text.

Tips to Minimize Subvocalization and Increase Reading Speed

Now that we’ve explored subvocalization and its impact on reading, let’s dive into some tips you can use to minimize its effects and improve your reading speed:

Technique #1: Skimming and Scanning for Efficient Reading

In a world where information is at our fingertips, the ability to efficiently sift through text is essential. 

  • Skimming is like gliding over the surface of text, searching for the most important ideas and concepts. It’s the difference between a leisurely stroll through a museum and a quick glance at the highlights. When you skim, you’re on the hunt for key terms, main ideas, and other essential bits of information that give you a quick snapshot of what’s going on.
  • Scanning, on the other hand, is like a targeted search for specific information. It’s the difference between flipping through a novel looking for a favorite quote and using a metal detector to find buried treasure. When you scan, you’re looking for specific facts, figures, and details that help you build a more comprehensive understanding of a topic.

Technique #2: Using a Pointer to Increase Focus and Speed

By using a pen, your finger, or any other object as a guide for your eyes, you can boost your focus and train your brain to process information more efficiently.

Think of it as playing connect-the-dots with the words on the page. As you move your pointer across the text, your eyes follow along, skipping the need to sound out each word in your head. The physical act of pointing helps you stay on track and prevents your mind from wandering.

With each sweep of your pen or finger, you’ll cover more ground, giving your brain more information to work with in less time. 

Plus, the act of physically engaging with the text helps your brain absorb the information more deeply, leading to better comprehension and retention.

You may be surprised at just how much it can transform your reading experience.

Technique #3: Pre-Reading Strategies to Improve Comprehension


  • Before diving into a text, pay attention to any visual aids, such as graphics or charts. These can often convey information more effectively than written text and can help you quickly understand key concepts.
  • Another pre-reading strategy that can improve comprehension is activating prior knowledge. Think about what you already know about a topic before reading. By activating prior knowledge, you’ll have a framework for understanding the new information and can make connections between old and new information, leading to deeper comprehension.
  • Plus, If you’re reading a non-fiction book, take a moment to read the table of contents. This can give you an overview of the structure of the book, the main topics covered, and how the information is organized.

Technique #4: Chunking for Better Memory Retention

Chunking involves grouping words or ideas together into larger chunks, which can be more easily remembered and processed by your brain. By chunking information together, you can reduce the need for subvocalization and improve your overall memory retention.

Technique #5: Distract from the Subvocalization

Think of it like driving a car. You don’t think about every movement you make when driving, such as turning the steering wheel or pressing the gas pedal. You simply do it without overthinking. 

Similarly, distracting yourself with a physical activity allows you to stop overthinking about subvocalization and focus more on the content of what you’re reading.

You could tap your foot, twirl a pen, or wiggle your fingers. Or you could listen to instrumental music while you read. This can help you concentrate on the music rather than the words in your head. Remember, the goal is to keep your mind occupied so that you don’t get bogged down by subvocalization.

Technique #6: Confront it

Sometimes, the best way to overcome a habit is to confront it head-on. That means forcing yourself to read without subvocalizing, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. 

Try reading at a faster pace than usual. This can help you focus on the overall meaning of the text instead of each individual word. Another way to force yourself to read without subvocalizing is to practice reading in short bursts

Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and read as much as you can without subvocalizing. Then take a break and repeat the process. As you get better, gradually increase the time you spend reading without subvocalizing.

Technique #7: Don’t Look Back

A common habit when reading is to backtrack and reread sections of text that we don’t fully understand. However, this habit can lead to subvocalization, as we tend to sound out words in our heads when we reread them. 

To minimize subvocalization, try not to look back while you’re reading.

Instead, if you come across a section of text that you don’t fully understand, try to move on and come back to it later. This can help you focus on the overall meaning of the text without getting bogged down by individual words or phrases.

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Technique #8: Visualize Everything

To practice visualization, try to create mental images of the words as you read them. 

If you’re reading a sentence about a dog running in a field, try to picture the dog running through a grassy field in your mind. This can help you understand the meaning of the sentence without having to sound out the words in your head.

Or you can use diagrams or mind maps. This can help you create a visual representation of the text, which can improve your comprehension and reduce the need for subvocalization.

Technique #9: Read in Volume

To read in volume, try to read chunks of text at a time, such as whole phrases or sentences, without stopping to sound out individual words. This can help you focus on the overall meaning of the text and reduce the need for subvocalization.

Technique #10: Improve your Vocabulary

When you encounter new words, it can be tempting to sound them out in your head, which can slow down your reading and reduce your overall comprehension. 

By expanding your vocabulary, you’ll be able to recognize more words at a glance, without having to sound them out.

Try to read a variety of materials, including books, articles, and blogs on a range of topics. When you come across new words, take the time to look them up in a dictionary or online. Make a note of the new word and its meaning, and try to use it in conversation or writing to help cement it in your memory.

Technique #11 : Peripheral Vision

Instead of focusing on each word individually, try to take in groups of words at once by using your peripheral vision.

To practice this technique, start by scanning a page quickly, without reading every word. Notice how much you can see at once without moving your eyes. Then, go back and try to read groups of words, rather than single words, using your peripheral vision to take in more information at once.

You can also use a visual aid, such as a ruler or index card, to guide your eyes across the page. Hold the visual aid horizontally and move it down the page, keeping your eyes fixed on the text just above it. 

This can help you take in larger groups of words at once, reducing the need for subvocalization.

Conclusion: Harnessing the Power of Speed Reading for Personal and Professional Growth

By mastering the techniques we’ve explored in this article, you can minimize subvocalization and achieve a faster, more focused reading experience. 

It’s important to note that speed reading is not just about reading faster, but also about retaining information effectively. By using techniques such as skimming, scanning, and active reading, you can improve your comprehension and memory of the material. 

Unlock your potential as a speed reader and witness the positive impact it can have on both your personal and professional life! 

Enroll now in our complimentary Speed Reading Course, led by Howard Berg, the world-renowned fastest reader. With Howard’s expert guidance, you can tap into your inner reading ninja and improve your reading speed and comprehension in no time.

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How To Overcome Subvocalization
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