8 ways to read REALLY FAST and understand everything too!

girl with booksSo you may be able to read fast, but do you understand what you are reading?

Or…you may be understanding what you are reading, but are you reading fast enough?

These are common problems for ESL learners. But there are some things you can do to speed up your reading. Here’s how:

Learn to Skim first

Skimming is the key to getting the basic understanding of what you are reading. So look at headings, sub headings and pictures and decide immediately what you think this might be about.  This will at least help you to get your mind focussed.

Read at different speeds

When you start to read, if it is easy, read quickly, if you are not sure what the sentence is about slow down….take each word or group of words slowly so you can digest them and understand them.

Learn to chunk

Chunking’ is reading groups of words, not just one word at a time. E.g. watch the television, the developing world, etc. Each of these consist of 3 words not one, this means when you are reading you can just look at one ‘chunk’ as if it were one word and this will speed you through the passage very quickly.

Read by identifying key words:

Key words are important words in each sentence. E.g. The man who works at the IGM building has lost his wallet.  The key words are ‘man-IGM-building-lost-wallet’. This tells you what you need to know, the rest are just filler words like, and, the, etc.

Track your reading

Many people start reading, then lose their place where they were before, and skim around trying to find that last sentence. If you keep your finger or a pencil close to the lines you are reading, this really helps you save time trying to find where you were up to.

Discuss what you have read with someone

There is nothing better to improve your comprehension skills than talking about what you have read. If you have a fellow student who is reading the same passage this is easy. If you are studying alone and can’t talk to anyone, just try thinking about that this is all about, or speak to yourself about what you feel you have understood.

Find the right place to read

Some people can read anywhere anytime, but most people have a special place, e.g. in the garden, in their bedroom. Find that place and focus on that place only for your reading. This place will always be quiet and unconsciously you will always associate that place with fast reading….

Pace yourself

Learning to read fast is like learning to run fast, you won’t be able to do it on the first day, but if you do it every day for a specific time e.g. one hour, gradually you will find yourself getting faster and faster – just like going to the gym, the first day you put the treadmill on 6 kmphr, by the end of the month you are up to 11kmphr!  See the change over time.


Please try these ways or at least some of them and tell me how they work for you.

Also do you have any other suggestions, I’m always open to ideas!

DID YOU KNOW:  Even check if you need reading glasses. This is a common problem and often the student is reluctant to sort the problem out, saying they are just tired or the light is not good. Get an eye check and if necessary get some reading glasses and it will change your life!!

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