How to read quickly in a foreign language

In this article we will discuss fast reading techniques in general and how to apply them to reading in a foreign language.

Learn fast reading

How do you save time during your studies in general? By learning to read faster without sacrificing understanding.

Be more active in reading

It is not a matter of reading fast without remembering anything, but of managing to memorize more quickly. Reading faster means being more active, more focused, which improves understanding and memorization. The opposite of reading while daydreaming!

When your brain is alert, you remember better.

Here are some methods you can apply daily.

Use a visual guide

First thing to do: use a visual guide, an object with which you will follow the text: a pen, a ruler or even your finger. If it's a pencil, for example, follow (with the side that does not write) the line of text you are reading. This helps to train your eyes to move quickly and in regular patterns.

Usually, when we read, our eyes go backwards in the text. We must lose this habit. With a visual guide, the movement of your eyes will be fluid.

You cannot, with this method, read a novel in one hour, since it is a linear reading, that is, you read all the words. But you can double your reading speed with practice.

Target what's important

As you know, in a textbook, all that is written does not have the same importance. In a volume of 500 pages, there will be many examples, anecdotes, diagrams, and titles. The idea is not to read everything, but to target what is important. This is called selective reading.

Before you start reading, flip through the text. Read the table of contents to see how it is organized and then the summary at the end of each chapter. Observe how the author sets up each part.

Then see the index: see what are the keywords. The entries with the most reference pages are important. Write them down on a sheet of paper. These are the key terms of the textbook. Then read the introduction, especially at the end, which presents the main ideas developed in the book, and the conclusion.

Combine linear reading and selective reading

Read the book only once these steps have been achieved! Use a pointer for faster linear reading. Focus on words in bold or italics, diagrams, graphics, photos, and legends.

In a history book, for example, you will remember the dates and the reasons for the events that took place. Feel free to annotate a few dates in the left margin and write in the right margin a sentence that sums up the page.

By combining visual guidance and selective reading, you will shorten your learning time. But be careful; it's not a miracle cure. It is necessary to invest a little before realizing a profit!

Measure and Learn

That which doesn’t get measured doesn't improve. How fast are you reading now? If you don’t know, it’s time to measure it.

There are many online tools designed to measure your reading speed. Here are three of them:

The result of that test will be the base level from which you can improve.
Here are some average reading speeds (Native English speakers reading in English):

Fast reading in foreign languages

Now that you know how to read fast, you have to learn to read in a foreign language.
You will need to combine two skills.
It is probably not the reading speed that needs improvement, but rather the comprehension speed.
Reading comprehension depends on a thorough understanding of vocabulary in context.
The best and most effective way to improve comprehension speed is to spend many hours listening to the language.

News broadcasts, in particular, and other exposure to the language spoken by natives at their normal speed will increase comprehension.
Until one becomes completely fluent in a foreign language, there is the need to translate mentally into our native language what we hear in a foreign language. This is normal.

When we begin to think in the foreign language, then we don't have to translate mentally and speed of comprehension is instantaneous.
You will then be able to use your reading skills and your very good language comprehension to read very quickly in this language.


What about you? Have you tried some of these techniques, have you been able to improve?
Please share your opinion leaving a comment below:

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