98 percent of the population has an average reading speed of 160 to 170 words per minute, which is about the same as schoolchildren aged eleven to twelve in a lower secondary school. Those learning to read must laboriously decipher each word, while proficient readers grasp words as a whole because their brains have created a visual lexicon. It is well known that when learning to read, the brain has to process a lot of information at the same time, from spelling to pronunciation to the meaning of a word. To do this, it first matches the sound of a word with its individual letters, which is why children often speak new words along quietly. But once the word has been memorized, this process is no longer necessary, because the word is recognized at a glance. These differences in reading can also be demonstrated using imaging techniques. In one experiment, subjects were presented with unknown fantasy words and their brain activity was recorded while reading these words. The participants were then given time for vocabulary training, after which they had to read the words again. Before practice, neurons responded to the fantasy words nonspecifically, i.e., the brain area for visual representation showed activity only for interspersed real words, but after training, neurons were active primarily in that area where the visual dictionary is located. The phonetic representation, on the other hand, was no longer active.
In Europe, only about one percent of adults read at a speed of 800 words or more. For speedy yet concentrated reading, a reading speed of 300 to 400 words would be desirable. How can such a reading speed be achieved?
Studies show that people can grasp images within fractions of a second. Thus, only fractions of seconds are necessary to recognize a whole word or a group of words that we know, and even incomplete words or groups of words are read correctly. For this the already famous example: “Ncah the sutide eneir elgnihcesn uvinisterät, it is nchit witihcg, in wlecehr Rneflogheie die Bstachuebn in eneim Wort setehn. The ezniige Wcthiige is that the estre and the lettte Bstabchue an der ritihcegn Slelte snid. The rset can be a ttoaelr slat of bestachubn, tedztorm knan man him onhe geößrre Pemoblre lseen. This is so daleshb as we do not read each bstachuebn individually, snderon the wrot as gseatems.”
Fast reading is hindered by a number of factors, such as too low a short memory capacity, low vocabulary, repeatedly jumping back to passages already read, word-by-word reading, keeping one’s eyes on the text for too long, or speaking words along internally.
Therefore, in order to read faster, these reading errors must be detected and corrected, after which the reading speed can be increased with various exercises, such as short and intensive speed reading, using clocks and other techniques. Above all, the aim is to increase concentration while reading, to gradually widen the span of vision, to increase the ability to memorize, and also to train the content-oriented gaze. This can also be done on one’s own, although there are of course also many seminars that often promise miracle things in a blatant manner. On this market, there is a confusing variety of neologisms that ultimately all mean more or less the same thing.