Is subvocalisation impeding your child’s reading speed?

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The human brain has the ability to read and comprehend 1000 words per minute (wpm) but most of us can only read in the range of 200-250 wpm. Most of us read at the speed at which we talk, which is on an average around 150-250 wpm.

At this rate your brain is only working at 25% of the speed that it is capable of. But what is the reason for this low performance?

The inefficiency in the reading speed is caused by a behaviour called subvocalisation which is more of a habit than an affliction. This behaviour is the process of reassurance using auditory means. In layman terms, it is the habit of saying the words in your head when reading and is one of the main reasons why people read slowly and have trouble improving their reading speed. 

This habit is induced by our schools and teachers who have taught us to say the words loudly while reading when we first learned to read during the early years. We were then asked to say the words in the head instead of saying loudly.

When your eyes read the words the visual signals are wired to the brain for processing but your brain is looking for reassurance from the auditory sensors on the word before completing the processing and this leads to a delay in comprehending which results into slow reading speed. 

Subvocalisation or the habit of saying words in the head or out loud is not all bad. It is sometimes useful when the reading material is a bit difficult to understand due to its terminology or vocabulary that you are not familiar with. This can be a useful way to improve the vocabulary but knowing when to use it and being able to control it determines how effectively you can benefit.

The trick to read faster is to reduce the amount of subvocalisation. It is not possible to eliminate it but there are things you can do to minimise it. 

In my next post, I will talk about how to help your child minimise subvocalisation and improve their reading speed which has a direct impact on their ability to comprehend text. 

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