I wonder what Steve thinks about speed reading programs

Firstly, I love this site!

I wanted to know what Steve’s opinion and others of this site think about studying your target language with a site like Zap Reader ?

I like using this site to help me read English articles in a really short amount of time, and I’ve been using it lately to practice with reading French text. I found I like using it better with shorter pieces of text at a time–It gives my eyes a chance to rest between sections.

Anyway, does anyone think that adding this type of reading to ones reading practice can help at all with language learning? I have noticed that it forces me to translate the text even faster than normal–or leave me very little time to translate at all at higher speeds, thus forcing me to better “feel” what I’m reading? I wonder Steve thinks about this? Thanks so much for any feedback! ^^

I’m not Steve but I’ll answer anyway. Since one of the methods (here at LingQ at least) to get vocabulary and grammar to stick is to listen to and read the same material over and over again, I’d say that being able to skim through a text at half the speed is quite helpful. Even if we’re not in a hurry to learn the language, I think it’s safe to asume that most of us want to make the studies time efficient.

A slightly related aspect is “speed listening” which some people are doing, by speeding up the audio in order to “force” yourself to listen more carefully, get used to different speeds and rely on natives speaking in slow motion (as is often the case in traditional learning materials).

I have never really been into speed reading. I mostly for enjoyment. I read English faster than other languages, but mostly just for enjoyment.

In learning a language, I am slower because I enjoy the experience of reading in a new language, and because I am focusing on the words and structures I want to learn.

I only skim or speed read business related or other documents where I just want the information, and the reading is not really an act of pleasurable indulgence.

I tried Zap reading in English at the site you recommended. The site showed the speed as 320 words per minute and I had not trouble stying ahead of the words. Then I tried it in Russian, the speed was 300 words per minute. I could read the words but I could not really follow the meaning. I prefer to see the whole text. I feel that when I read I am actually taking in large chunks of content. Isolating the words did not seem pleasant to me.It is not something I would do.

Was that a joke site? :slight_smile: You can only read one word at a time. I guess it does show what abuse your brain can put up with and still eke out some meaning. IMO that would be useless for language learning. Maybe it would be OK for blitzing through email. I agree with Steve. You’re only reading for content with that method and I think you’d do much better looking carefully at the structure of sentences, the endings of words and reading slowly. There’s no rush.

Thanks for the feed back. Yeah, I’ll admit, I’m a real impatient person, so its totally with in my personality to try to experiment with reading through text like this. Point of fact, that’s one of the things that I love about this site–I find looking up words in the dictionary–in the traditional way–as I read to be real tedious and boring, so I love the lingq technology. Flash cards are kinda boring for me too, I have to really force myself to study them. I just want to read it and, BAM! understand it. Another thing I’ve learned through studying French is that apparently, I’m a highly visual learner.

Since French is the first foreign language that I’ve studied, and I’m only at an intermediate level, I’m constantly brainstorming ways to speed up the learning process. Trying to figure out what works best for me, 'cause I plan to learn two other language apart from French. ^^

Hi ipanema

Ways to speed up the learning process? Just read more. Preferably on your favourite topic. You seem to be really keen so I’m sure you will do well. You don’t need to flashcard every word you don’t know - only the words you really want to remember, so maybe that’s why it appears a chore?

You might want to try Spreeder.com if you interested in that. I believe you can chuck words together. It also has a firefox extension which is quite nice.

Thanks everyone! And, kgeoghegan, I think you’re right. I tend to make flash cards for tons of words, even words that I’m familiar with. Maybe I’ll only make lingqs for words that are completely new and unfamiliar to me. That way, studying them will be a bit more interesting.

Since we’re on the topic of reading, how do people feel about reading aloud, or to oneself? Many people say that you should always read aloud, however sometime, I prefer to read to myself because I can concentrate less on the pronunciation and more on understanding. I wonder what Steve thinks of this?

I occasionally read out loud. I rarely keep it up. It detracts from the enjoyment of my reading.

What I do recommend is reading your corrected writing out loud, more than once. These are thoughts that you tried to express correctly. They have now been corrected and are expressed as a native speaker would express them. You should now read this out loud a few times. It is good for pronunciation and for learning correct phrasing.

I checked out the site. It actually seems pretty cool to me. and there is a feature where you can increase the number of words displayed. It doesnt have to be just one word. I immediately tried it out for kanji. I have a large excel list that is already in columns Mind you I didnt put in the meaning of the words i only wanted a kanji and phonetic reading for study. It was very quick to put together and they pop on the screen with both the kanji and the reading. I adjusted the speed down to 100 words per minute to give myself some extra time to absorb the picture. I am going to toy with it a little more. It kind of feels like I am brainwashing myself while watching that. It may be a good tool for learning phonetic readings for kanji in my opinion. Ill let you know the results for the japanese and chinese learners out there.

In my opinion speed reading does not improve understanding, (the most important thing) moreover it destroys the pleasure of reading.
I found more rewarding “PhotoReading Method - the fantastic discover of Paul Scheele (“The PhotoReading Whole Mind System” ) – based on relaxation and suggestion, quite an hypnotic technique that enables you to use your brain more effectively.

In addition I think it is useful modify the strategies of lectures according one’s purpose:
• Skimming (a quick glance at the title and subtitles to check whether a book is likely to be useful for your purpose) to decide if read the issue or not
• Scanning (a rapid reading technique) to look for specific words and ideas when you have a specific question in your mind and you are looking for the answer to that question
• PSQ5R :
o Purpose (“What do I expect to learn from this text?”)
o Survey the text (an overview)
o Question (Why? – What? – Where? – Who? – How? – Which? – When?)
o Read selectively
o Reduce (summarize what you have read)
o Record (memorize what you have read)
o Recall the information
o Review what you have read and understood
to academic purpose

I find “aloud reading” is a useful system to improve one’s delivery and in this case “speed reading” can help.

For reading in foreign languages, as well as literature and poetry in any language, I try to slow my eyes down as they travel across the page or screen. I think it allows me to enter the world of the text better. This requires conscious effort because I am used to reading expository texts in my mother tongue where I just want to get the information I need… and I tend to skip over the text as if it were a train schedule