The two legs upon which speed reading rests, in short, are chunking and seeking. Chunking is reading multiple words at once, while seeking allows you to find those chunks quickly and efficiently. The first exercise below will solve your subvocalization problems, but I recommend doing both in order to read text more effectively.
- A computer with internet access for the first exercise
- A stopwatch and notecards (or a flashcard system of any sort) for the second exercise
Practice Chunking with Spreeder
Many combinations of words can be comprehended simultaneously, which negates the need for subvocalization. Reading multiple words at once is called chunking. A useful tool to drill this skill is Spreeder, which breaks text into arbitrary chunks and displays them a chunk at a time.
- Go to www.spreeder.com
- Click to speed read the introduction
- Click "spreed!"
- At the bottom right, click "settings" and increase chunk size to 3
- Increase wpm as desired
Practice Seeking with flashcards
After you are comfortable speed reading on spreeder at a high level, which should have solved your subvocalization problem, move on to seeking. Spreeder displays chunks right in the middle of the screen, which is predictable. Real world text, however, is not that convenient.
Still, Spreeder can be helpful.
- "Spreeder" some text with chunk size 3
- Write those chunks down on your flash cards
- Pull up or print out the original text
- Shuffle the flash cards and pull them at random
- Identify the random chunk in the text as fast as possible
- Use the stopwatch to time yourself after identifying 10 chunks
Doing this for 15 minutes a day will vastly improve your reading speed.
This was the basis of the speed reading course I took at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I can't cite any research from this coffeehouse, but give it a shot and see for yourself. Personally, I read casually at 500wpm at 90% comprehension and I can read up to 800wpm at 60% comprehension. I've been able to read like this since before the class, though, so feel free to take it with a grain of salt.