Reading Faster

Can someone explain to me some tips to read faster in my target language? In the last year I’ve read what I would consider is a lot in French, about 700k words, but it feels very slow. I’m wondering if it’s something I’m doing or not doing properly, or if its just a matter of “read more”.

Thank you very much

One of the biggest obstacles to overcome with regard to reading speed is your ability to recognize a large number of words and structures automatically. With words that you’re less familiar with, you’ll read slower. Your eyes actually fixate on the less familiar words for a longer period of time. Paul Nation talks about developing reading fluency here in a video called “Developing Reading Fluency” on YouTube. I’d recommend that you check it out because it will probably give you some ideas about how to boost your not only your reading fluency and speed, but your overall automaticity in your target language. Nation’s research is some of the best in the SLA field, so I don’t think you can another source that gives options based on years of study. One of the main things that he suggests is doing a speed reading course, which has you read a passage and answer comprehension questions about it (extremely easy questions) and then you repeat this twice I believe. I’d guess that the cause of your slower reading is both lack of familiarity with certain vocabulary and the general lack of exposure to extensive reading and listening to easy material in TL. You should be able to improve quite a bit, but I think the harder part here is making sure that you find content that doesn’t bore you, as easy material seems to be best for fluency development. Easy here meaning that there is no new information for you. He talks on this in the video quite a bit. Highly recommend it if you’re interested in fluency/automaticity development!

I also would just like to say that I definitely feel the same way about my TL. I always read slower, but it’s definitely getting better. I could do a better job reading more easy content, but it’s hard to pass up on the more interesting material to develop some fluency skills.

Good luck and nice work reading 700k in a year. Hope you enjoyed the content :smiley:


Thanks for the direction! Yeah, that is my issue too, I don’t mind struggling through some harder texts that I find interesting, but to go back to some easier stuff is not just boring, but feels counter productive for me.

If anyone else is looking for the video iMeoWi mentions here is the link:

I’ll check out the video as I think this is an interesting topic, but this is something I’ve been contemplating…going “back” to easier stuff, but in order to practice speeding up reading and comprehension.

My thinking is that it would be beneficial to go back to easier material that you understand 90% or higher in order to practice reading faster. For this I’ve gone back to, which is easy news for German. Because it’s news it’s always interesting to some degree I think. The articles are very short so you can read them in a minute or two. For my level I don’t have to look up much of anything (and if I’m practicing speed I shouldn’t look up anything at all imo and just try to understand the story as a whole and gloss over the parts I don’t quite follow).

You’ll never be able to read faster if you’re always using challenging material unless you focus on simply not looking up anything or hesitating when you come across something you don’t understand.

Why do you consider it boring? Try to find new content at that easier level. It may be that you are at a low enough level that the easier content just simply isn’t interesting? If so, maybe just read a paragraph or two of this type of thing and move on to something else.

It’s funny, because I have recently started reading through the summary text for the harder stuff and can follow along enough to get the jist, and then go through it again quickly to get the lingqs or problem phrases.

I feel it’s boring because I feel I should be reading books and longer texts. If I were to pull up a blog or an article on baking or a few of the things that interest me, I can read it without any translation (most of the time), it might be more of an issue of stuck on the platform.

After typing it out, seems like I had my priorities a bit backwards in that sense.

Priority is always to do things that keep you interested in learning =). So if going back to the easier stuff is boring then don’t necessarily do it. It may just be that you need a little higher level so going back to “easier” stuff then doesn’t mean you’re going back to something that’s too basic. So potentially it’s tactic you could try later.

It’s only something I’m just starting to explore now. I tend to read very carefully, look words up I don’t know, in some cases confirming things I already know. I try to read some things without too much looking up, even if it is challenging. Like I might try breezing through a difficult news article on their website itself and use google translate to quick pop up things rather than slog through it in LingQ. But worrying less about precise definitions and comprehension. No idea if that’s helpful or not to the task of speed reading but thought I’d throw it out there as a possibility.

I believe your pace is okay :slight_smile:

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I’m a much faster listener than reader. If I could go back in time and take all of my modern technology with me, and I added French as a double major, I’d 100% be buying all of the audiobooks from the required reading list and also investing in one of the better text-to-speech subscriptions. I can easily knock out a 300 page novel in 5 days or less through listening, and have it feel like I did it in my spare time. If I had to read a 300 page novel for class (rather than listening to the audio), it would feel overly consuming and would take time away from other classes I had to study for. But, outside of any fire under me for school or work, there’s really no hurry or any need to stress out about my reading speed. I’d just sit back and enjoy reading at whatever my natural pace is.

I’ve read around 620k words in the last year and I’m in the same boat. It takes a lot of time and practice. If you’re not fluent yet your reading speed won’t improve much as you’re constantly being slown down by unfamiliar/new words and grammar.

It’s even worse when trying to read a target language that is written in a different alphabet! I used to never use target-language subtitles on videos because I couldn’t read as fast as they talk, and trying to do so was a distraction to the listening. Things have changed somewhat as I’ve gotten farther along. That sounds backwards, doesn’t it? The more advanced I get, the more I use subtitles. :slight_smile:
Anyway, using subtitles (in the target language) on videos and movies that you can understand pretty well might be one way among others to help boost your reading speed. Good luck to you.