Reading without sounding words out in one's mind.

The single biggest factor that slows down my reading speed is that I have to “say” the words in my head. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of people have to do this too. I have heard that many deaf people can read much faster than normal because they don’t have to sound out the words in their heads, and I want to learn how to do that. From the little I’ve read out this, one way to do this is to read a book upside down, which supposedly helps one’s mind to see words as shapes instead of sounds. Is there any truth to this, and what other ways are there to reduce my dependence on this?

I’m sorry that I don’t have any tips for you, but I’m not sure about your assertion that most people do it that way. The only time I have to sound out words in my head is when I come across one that I’m unfamiliar with. I can also read upside down and sideways, and I’m not deaf. Like I said, I don’t have any tips, because I don’t know how I ‘learned’ to read the way I do.

Now I’m gonna be thinking about this all night.

Around 95%, I think the figure is. You’ll get a skewed sample from this board, though, since we tend towards heavy readers here.

Myself, it seems like reading just bypasses the “sound” parts of the brain, and just plugs directly into the language centers themselves. No, I don’t know how it is that I do this, nor how one can learn to (though I imagine that just plain reading a lot probably helps).

Most people are comfortable sounding out words in their heads, and you can even speed this up with practice too. Sometimes I read while moving my mouth really fast. The problem with trying to quit the sounding out “habit” is it is way to easy to end up with reduced comprehension.
What you are looking for are Speed Reading techniques. If you do a simple search for Speed Reading you’ll find there is plenty you can do to “speed up” your reading, but again; be careful because if you just skim, you will lose meaning! Mainly, you’ll want to work on increasing the number of words you can read at a time - essentially you could end up teaching yourself to “sound out” a whole sentence instead of just a single word, I guess. But in the end a lot of practice and toying around could yield highly successful results. It also all depends on what information you are looking for as well; the business section can be read just as fast as the comics, but does that matter if you don’t find the best stocks or get all the jokes?

Hope this helps.

I think it depends on what I’m reading. If I’m just skimming, esp. non-fiction, I don’t really sound them out. But if it’s fiction, especially something I’m enjoying, I make an effort to slow down because I don’t want to go too fast. Also, I like to “hear” the characters speak the dialogue.

Maybe you just need to read more. I don’t sound out words unless I’ve never seen them before. I think my brain just recognizes whole words and that comes with repetition.

Gah! I don’t usually mentally sound out words when reading, but now that you mentioned it I can’t stop doing it – I’ve read this entire thread hearing all the words in my head.

It may not be something you can consciously do; I can’t turn it (mental sounds) off right now, although I’m sure it will go away as soon as I stop thinking about it.

If I’m focusing on reading fast, I can read at about 380-400 wpm without losing significant amounts of information. I tried the techniques written about here today, and I’ve significantly increased my reading speed, although my comprehension “speed” isn’t up to par yet.

Edit: I read significant amounts, at least compared to usual people my age (18 years old). I don’t tend to sound out the words in my head when I’m reading fiction, as I tend to “watch” it like a movie, but I do do it for non-fiction.

This won’t be any help, but I think the problem is that people don’t read slowly enough. So unless you have a backlog of reading, I wouldn’t sweat it.

Maybe I’m somewhere in between. As I’m reading for most purposes, my internal voice starts saying each word, but I don’t finish them because I can read faster than I can think the sounds.

(So that post might sound like “May I’m som in betw. As I’m ree, for mos purpo my int voi start say ee wor, bu I don fini them beca I can read fas than I can thi the sou.”)

I would focus on doing more reading rather than trying unusual tricks.

Your lips still can’t go as fast as your brain. To discourage the lip-moving habit, place a pencil between your teeth while you are reading.

Sometimes I will move my fingertip at a fast pace under the line that I am reading. I think speed readers stay closer to the center of the page.

I read slowly. I hear every word in my head - not really sounding out, like a word I don’t know, but just as if I’m narrating in my head. On top of this, I also visually imagine everything I read and even stop and think about what I’m reading. So I’m always amazed when I read here about someone knocking out a 300 page book in an hour or two. Same sized book will take me 6-8 hours to read, minimum.
ETA: my comprehension, however, is fricking fantastic.

No, I couldn’t read half so much if I sounded out each word in my head, although I sometimes subvocalize deliberately when reading Shakespeare, Milton, etc, just to roll those magnificent cadences round my tongue.

Interestingly it had been thought that silent reading was practically unknown in the ancient world and worthy of remark when men were capable of it, the ‘evidence’ for this depending mainly on a single passage in Augustine of Hippo. Modern scholarship, however, disputes this.

Link to summary of article

I thought that the remarkable thing was having the books, time, privacy, status… to read for yourself. Those who couldn’t (specially those who could read but only did so for strictly-practical puposes) had reactions similar to those of my no-books-at-home classmates when they came to the houses of the several-thousand-books-at-home crowd. The notion of nobody ever having been mentally able to read with his mouth closed until Gutenberg came along seems quite absurd.

I hear the words in my head if I’m reading slowly and carefully, not otherwise. It’s appropriate for some things (e.g. poetry), not for others (e.g. Dan Brown).

The only advice I can give, as to how to learn to read without hearing, is to practice by reading things that you find so interesting or exciting (or maybe, so boring) that you want to get through them as quickly as you can.

If i’m really getting into a good book, there will be times that not only do i not sound out the words, i will forget I’m actually reading… Its as if there is a little movie playing in my head.

The downside to this is that imagination fills in many of the gaps i missed, and imagination is less reliable. I will remember reading things that didn’t actually happen, or the mental picture of a person or place will be completely different than what was written down, which can cause confusion if that trivia is referred to later on.

I used to sort and carry mail for a living. I was not a particularly fast sorter, sometimes found myself going very quickly without conciously ‘saying’ the names or addresses in my head, just seeing and putting it in the correct slot.
It turned out to be very accurate, too, but was somehow frightening to me!

I didn’t know other adults did this until I had this big to-do with the boyfriend who didn’t believe me when I said I don’t hear the words. Of course I don’t hear the words - I’m reading.

Same here. Never felt like I was reading too slow, though. Sometimes, that in-head narration is really fast, if not John Moschitta fast :D.

Couldn’t have said it better