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August 12, 2012

A7 Follow–Up 4: The Final Review: See the words WHIZZING PAST!!!

Follow-up to Follow Up 3: Jumping the hurdles, glimpsing the light at the end of the page ! from Melvin's blog

“The early development of speed reading can be traced to the beginning of the (20th) century, when the publication explosion swamped readers with more than they could possibly handle at normal reading rates.” - Tony Buzan

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I can’t believe how fast the time has gone…. One moment I was worrying about reading for the dissertation and another I am coasting through them without worry. I really does make me realise how effective using the different techniques have been. The initial boost in speed from 180 to 410 wpm was the biggest of motivators in my endeavour to achieve the result and reading skill.

Over the weeks and months my practice framework for reading included everything from little articles to paper to long journals. For the last month it has included a plethora of journals and articles for the dissertation. THE ABILITY TO READ FAST is made up of lots of little skills. You can use as many or as few of those skills as you want. The more of those individual skills you use, the faster you’ll be able to read. Add all the skills together, and sure, it’s dramatic. But who needs dramatics? A small improvement is cool enough, paving the way for a bigger feat of achievement.

Of course, when you learn to read faster, you can read more. But there’s another benefit that’s not so obvious: Reading will become more interesting. Same thing I found with listening to a lecturer who speaks too slowly versus one who speaks at a comfortable but lively pace. It’s more interesting. It’s more fun. It keeps you awake. And by reading faster, you’re making the process more challenging in a controlled way. And a challenge that is under your control is enjoyable. Making reading interesting adds to the amount you retain and thus is a win win situation.sr1

Some key avenues that I ventured other than the well known and personally valued ‘GREEN POINTER’ are as follows.

DON’T LET YOUR EYES REGRESS, keep them moving forward. They will have a tendency to go back a few words occasionally. That continual little movement backwards adds up. I realised that if I stopped doing it, both my speed and comprehension increased.

Additionally I ensured a state of ‘Constant Practice Of Picking Up Speed’ as you read. Reading is a skill, and like any other skill, the constant effort to do it a little better keeps you getting better and better at it as time goes on.

Another area I established was to ‘TAKE IN MORE WORDS AT A TIME’. If you normally see two words at a time when you read, your eyes look at two words, move to the next two and stop to look at those, move to the next two, etc. I began taking in two words at a time so my eyes make fewer stops, increasing your speed.

A main point I focused on whilst reading development and one which I would share with every one attempting to develop their reading is :

“Increase Your Challenge Only As Your Skill Increases. Keep It Fun. Don’t Push Yourself So Hard It Becomes Stressful!”

Another pointer for anyone hoping to improve their reading with techniques is one I would add from personal experience :

“WHEN YOU FIRST practice a technique, you’ll be conscious of using it and that may very well distract you a little from comprehending what you’re reading. But keep practicing and the technique will become automatic, no longer requiring your conscious attention, allowing you to put your full attention on the content of the written material. At that point, you will have gained an increase in reading skill to enjoy for the rest of your life.”

An Update on Dissertation method:

My personalised technique for dissertational reading proved to be a success overall . Although trying out the technique initially proved to have flaws.reading_fast.jpg

The first few points seemed to fit well with efficient reading for the dissertation. However, the fifth point seemed to pose significant issues.

5. After reading the whole article, ask myself what did I get from it, does it meet my expectation, which part should be useful for my study, etc. “Question understanding to analyse how effectively you have read!”

After trying out this a few times I become conscious of the time consuming aspect it harboured. After reading the whole article and then assessing it proved to inefficient as on numerous occasions after spending time reading an article, then assessing it and realising it didn’t meet my expectations seemed to be a waste of time. Realigning it with my initial target of speeding and effective reading as well as with time management, I modified it to be an ever running process, regardless of where I am in the article. After finding strategic points in the article I went about assessing it, thus establishing whether the article is worth reading and is it useful for the dissertation.

It also helped with the other important factor of assessing whether my reading was effective. The article could have been very useful for the dissertation, but if I had not read effectively I would have initially taken too long to read and if the comprehension was not up to scratch will have to spend more time re-reading it. This is a very costly aspect with respect to the dissertation ( SO little TIME, so Much WORK!). Always keeping in mind what I hoping to gain or which bits will be useful to add to the dissertation really helped me to add signposts throughout the articles. Some areas I have highlighted and left notes on the side giving overview of the paragraph and which part of the dissertation it could be useful for.

Overall I would say my improved and realigned process of speeding reading for dissertation has been working really well and will be something I will utilising for the next 20 days J. However, this style/methodology of reading is universal as it could be implemented into anything . But in some cases it is not as useful, such as reading a novel. Always assess what your going to read and why before establishing your personalised technique, as something that works for someone in one situation might not work in another, or as a matter of fact for another person.

All in all “WHERE I AM NOW?

A question I can proudly answer. I have gone from being fearful of the number of words to read, to seeing it as something interesting , something I can sink into without worry how long I take. Nevertheless, I do believe making this perfect is something of a long term goal and will require a lot of practice, something I will be ensuring to do. But for now I am happy with the little habits I have formed and the success, little in the eyes of some but highly significant in the eyes of others.

Moreover the fun is about to begin in about 20days, once I finish this dissertation. I have already built a stack of interesting novels to read. Nonetheless, the interesting factor is in everything you read whether it be fantasy book or a cutting edge paper on the development of stem cells into an off the shelf therapy. Always personal interest could state something to be more interesting to read in comparison to another, but it is our reading styles that could make even an interesting article boring, by the way we read it.

For now this is it the FINAL REVIEW for the Speeding reading Portfolio, however the future is still full of surprises and something I hope to blog about in the future, once I graduate J

“The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade.” - Anthony Trollope

“I can read a book twice as fast as anybody else. First I read the beginning, and then I read the ending, and then I start in the middle and read toward whichever end I like best.” - Gracie Allen

A big thank You to Han-Na for all your support and words of wisdom.

Before I finish this post here is a challege...... CAN YOU READ this post in 1minute????

Dare to take the challenge:) >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>sr34

Kind Regards

Melvin


July 17, 2012

Follow Up 3: Jumping the hurdles, glimpsing the light at the end of the page !

Follow-up to Follow–up 2 : Speedy Reading from Melvin's blog


Following my last posts and updates, I have started the dreaded task of ‘Reading for the Dissertation’.10860-a-scared-young-shaking-male-bookworm-reading-a-book-about-fishing-hooks-clipart-illustration.jpg
Having a huge number of articles to read from has, and is a daunting task for me. Even though I have been improving my technique with the plethora of assignments the last 4 weeks were littered with, just the thought of reading at least a minimum of 30 articles/journals alongside other still worries me.

This update will illustrate my findings from the last 4 weeks as well as my progress on dissertational reading. Emphasising some effective techniques that I have instilled include ‘Guide: Green Pointer’, ‘Reading in smaller chunks’, ‘Supporting reading with key note taking’ as well as the ‘10 Second Gap between pages’(Allowing all the read information to sink in as well as giving a small breaking between sections).

Following the practice and use of these key techniques over the last few months, I feel I read significantly faster. This progress however was riddled with issues I have highlighted in my previous posts, the prominent of which was comprehension.

“HOW MUCH OF THE TEXT DID I UNDERSTAND AND RETAIN ! ”

This was one of my biggest areas of concern as it is vital to be able to read fast as well as understand the text enough to make a good stab at explaining about it correctly. Adding to this was the task of E-Reading. Having to read numerous journals online is an issue, as I found that I lost focus very easily whilst reading electronic material compared to using hard copy. Specifically for the electronic copy I have resorted to changing background colours to help reading, highlighting a paragraph at a time to read to avoid being overwhelmed as well as concentrate on the text, and finally using an electronic pointer.

As always I have focused on the use of instrumental music, in specific music by “Ludovico einaudi” really helps to maintain focus and elevate the effects of extended sub-vocalisation, which I have noticed I tend to do at times, when I’m tired or have been working/reading for some time. The other tools in my arsenal have included occasional use of ‘Spreeder’. However seeing that the music seems to work better I have reduced its use.

A key area that I have tried to work on over the weeks is “Peripheral Vision”. Improving in this particular area poses great benefits as using peripheral vision to the fullest would mean faster reading, which has proved useful when searching for journals and quick reading the abstracts to see how good they are. Considering I am having to reading at the very least 30 abstracts for the assignments I have had to write, the numbers for a 15,000 word dissertation would be prominently higher. Thus I extended using an online tool called “Shultz tables” to improve my peripheral vision, as it provides exercises.

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Thus to summarise, my experiences can be characterised into effective and ineffective segments, some work and some don’t. It is the effective ones I will thoroughly pursue to develop and implement to establish this invaluable skill to speed read. I know that the techniques are numerous so we can choose what fits us. Hence the techniques that didn't work for me might work for others, moreover, they might work for me sometime in the future, who knows!

In the interim, I have found my own approach to reading effectively with the help from the Speedy Reading workshop. I hope to thoroughly develop these and continually improve my speedy reading ability, by making some of these a daily practice (using guides, focus key words, no back-skipping, and review after reading)

Hence current dissertation reading strategy, especially for the journals and articles, I follow a framework as shown below.

1. Analyse the title to pick out key words and consider the subject of the paper, as well as what it is going to say. “Set a frame of mind for the topic”

2. Read the abstract/introduction and conclusion first. Underline the key words. At this stage, I can grasp the whole structure of the article, therefore having a clear guideline for reading the whole paper. “Critique article with an overview”

3. Reading the subtitle, to find my reading target, or what I am expecting from reading this article. With a clear goal, concentration and effectiveness will guide me to read with efficiency. “Find out what I need the most from the paper”

4. Make a few notes if necessary. “Support reading and comprehension at each stage”

5. After reading the whole article, ask myself what did I get from it, does it meet my expectation, which part should be useful for my study, etc. “Question understanding to analyse how effectively you have read!”

6. Give a brief summary of this article: citation information, key summary of this article, and categorize it into different subject (e.g. this paper is about leadership, I will market it and add it into the leadership category list, which is easy to find it and useful for collecting resources for a specific area study in the future). “Summarise”

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Finally, I believe “Speedy Reading” is not only a useful tool for academia, but a tool with a substantial impact on life itself, particularly in the years to come that will see a new job as well as substantially higher corporate responsibility. Therefore continuous improvement is of highest priority to continue improving my reading skills, with my long term goal to include practicing once or twice a day. All in all why wouldn't I?, I'm sure to achieve improvements, although not as dramatic as how they have been so far, but an improvement nonetheless. It was a journey in the unknown before the workshop but now I have the feeling I travel not alone and have the means to tackle the issues.


"These learning skills from the workshop are just the “STARTER”, practice is the “MAIN COURSE” and only if you can complete those two can you have the “DESERT”, the uplifting results of your hard work. ”

To me this is not the end, but the beginning of honing my reading skills with continuous leaning practice to develop myself, truly for the better. Although this will be my last blog post for this workshop, I will keep you up to date on my progress through my other blogs and hopefully if I’m allowed access to Warwick blogs after graduation too. A sincere thank you to you Han-Na for the workshop, an priceless opportunity to be missed, something I was lucky to attend during my year at Warwick.


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Best Regards

Melvin



June 21, 2012

Follow–up 2 : Speedy Reading

Follow-up to A7 Speed Reading from Melvin's blog

Follow Up 2: Hurdles on the Road to Reading Development

A7d

Following my reflection and setting up a pathway for change, here is an update on my progress. The idea of 'Using a Guide', I integrated with everyday reading that I undertake. By ensuring I used a reader, in specific I made the 'Bright Green Pencil' my Guide, I feel my reading ability has improved considerably. By using it everyday I have made it a habit, as automatically every time I have to read I look for my guide. Resultant of this change my confidence in my reading ability has considerably changed.

However, I still face the issue of sub-vocalisation that affects my reading skill every now and then. Even though I started using 'SPREEDER' initially, which proved useful, it didn’t seem to be something I could implement in an everyday schedule. Having long days at University and plenty of reading every day, I just couldn't get myself to run through SPREEDER after coming home at 8pm.

Thus, I have made it a habit to remind myself/write a note prior to reading to remind myself not to sub-vocalise, focus on the sentence ahead to tackle this issue. I also found that playing music, instrumental, helps with the sub vocalisation.

So, on this road to changing my reading ability I understand that constant work has to be put in. With small but useful changes in the results that I obtain from these techniques and the impact of these on my confidence, has and continues to drive me to work on my reading ability, particularly considering the biggest area to implement my new skills (my dissertation) is yet to be looked at.


Thanking You

Regards

Melvin Jose


June 07, 2012

A7 Speed Reading



Follow-Up 1: Self Reflection and Road to change

SP1

Reading skills are a key aspect in everyday life ranging from entertainment to education etc. A skill that we have developed since childhood into early adulthood. An crucial skill which is taken for granted and never pushed to its limits to improve it. Hence even though each person encompass the ability to read, some harness it much better than others.

Prior to coming to this session, I have always found reading fast to be difficult. This feeding back along with the monumental amounts I am expected to read during my Masters Degree, makes the idea of reading a very daunting task. Even though I would be prepared to do it, I always had the feeling of insecurity and lack of confidence, that ‘I would not be able to read the text well’ or ‘How will I read through all this text as well as try and understand something from it?’ Thus understanding this I set on the road to change and develop my reading skills.

The workshop introduced me to a number of techniques, most favourite of which was ‘Using a Guide’. Observing my initial reading speed of 180 wpm and an average comprehension rate of 60%, really reflected my worries and the need for change. Implementing the ‘Using the Guide’ technique really illustrated a boost in my reading speed, as I found my eyes flowed over the text better. It also exuded the fact that with the use of a guide I did not stagnate on one word or a string of words. The text seemed to flow better and I also seemed to use my peripheral vision to see the upcoming words prior to the guide actually passing under them. The resultant effects using a guide doubled my speed to 410 wpm, improved comprehension to 75% as well as gave me a sense of achievement and relief (as for my upcoming dissertation I knew a lot of reading will have to be done).


Another key effect that I noted was a reduction in sub-vocalisation, that is as long as I followed the guide and did not back track my eyes over the last few words again. However, sub-vocalisation is another point I will have to tackle, possible with the use of ‘SPREEDER’, which initially seemed to preposterous and overwhelming but something I realised was forcing me to subdue the overly active sub-vocalisation.

Hence in short, following this workshop I have assignments and presentations which are an excellent place to start practising these techniques and thus preparing me well for the big task of dissertation based research. I plan on executing the following developed ‘Action Points’ , which include

  • Constant use of a guide
  • Practise using Spreeder to quieten the Sub-vocalisation
  • Ensuring regular 10 minute sessions are taken for practice and another 10 to evaluate my progress and troubleshoot issues, I might come up against.

SP2



Thank You Han-Na for the valuable techniques

Best regards

Melvin Jose


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