Bad Reading Habits and How to Break Them
The University of Alabama
Center for Academic Success
To really get rid of a bad
habit, you should replace it with a good one. You have to want to get rid
of the bad habits, and you must practice and work at it in order to
change. The following are some of the bad habits which tend to cause
people to read slowly. Ask yourself whether you are guilty of any of the
A. Moving your lips when you read
Moving your lips slows you to a fast talking rate, about 150 words per
minute. Put your fingers on your lips to stop the motion.
Vocalizing means that you are pronouncing words in the voice box of
the throat without making sounds. This also slows your reading rate to
that of speaking. To check, rest your fingertips lightly against the vocal
cord area of your throat. If you feel a vibration, or if you find that
your tongue is moving, you are vocalizing.
C. Reading everything at the same
When reading, set your rate according to your purpose for reading
and the difficulty level of the material. Practice adjusting your rate to
suit your material. The more difficult the material, the slower the rate.
D. Regressing out of habit
Regressing means rereading a word, phrase, or sentence out of habit
and not because of need. Sometimes, it is necessary to reread something,
especially in a difficult passage. But habitual, unnecessary regressing
really slows you down. Use a card or paper to cover the text after you
read it to prevent regressing.
E. Reading one word at a time
Do you think one word at a time, or in phrases? Slow readers tend
to see only one word at a time. Good readers will see several words at a
time and their eyes will stop only three or four times as they move across
a page. Reading in idea-phrases speeds your reading and improves your
understanding of what you have read. Mark the phrases in the sentences of
a passage, then practice seeing more than one word at a time.
The best way to read faster
is to practice reading just a little faster than is comfortable. Changing
reading habits is not easy, after all you have been reading that way for
many years. It takes several weeks of conscious effort in order to change
bad reading habits. For more information on increasing reading speed,
contact the Center for Academic Success.