Subvocalization – How to Overcome This Bane of Bookworms?

Caution – this article might completely change your perception on reading, forever, if you allow it do so.

Unless you are gifted naturally to read every line you come across without saying it in your mind AND comprehending it – this process which is called subvocalization – is a tough thing to get rid of.

If you love reading (whatever – on the internet, books, anything) Imagine how much you can read if you read those lines faster than you are doing right now! Though research studies shoot down the possibility of getting rid of subvocalization altogether, there are ways to minimize this to a greater extent.

It’s a simple technique (set of mindset shifts), which when we learn, will blow away our minds. We will notice the difference almost immediately.

Here they are:

1. Reading is for comprehension – not for memorizing every word. Unless you intend to do that. So, while reading, skip over some planted words like (the, an, a) – they are there for grammatical reasons – to make sense; but feel free to mercilessly avoid looking at them. What’s important is to articulate the text without hanging to every word – pick the vital – leave the rest.

2. Words convey ideas. Now, let’s get this point deeply inside our heads. Let it soak into our hard-wired brains because it’s important. Words are not sitting there to rule you – they are just messengers sent out by the writer so he or she communicate what they thought. Instead of weighing each and every word and sitting on them – I would just move on once I get the idea of what is being written. Read for ideas, not the plain words.

3. How do you typically read the numbers? Apply the same mindset when you read words. Here is an example – when you come across years like 1986, did you read it as Nineteen-Eighty-Six? Possibly not! You just moved on after quickly grabbing those four characters (1-9-8-6) without reading them in your mind. This same example can be applied to any large number too – 2,890,453,091; if you start reading them out loud with proper decimal notation starting from 2 billion and so on – you might spend more time hanging on to those digits instead of just picking it up and going ahead. Another example is road sign symbols. There are some road signs with words that are wired in brains when we learn driving. Take the word ‘stop’ for example. While driving, you don’t read those words given on signs. Just by looking at it, you know to stop. Often they are accompanied by symbols and signs but we get the point. Practicing this awareness can help us remember to read for ideas.

4. To avoid reading the words in your head, create blocks of text into sets – say 3 or 4 sets per line and mentally say 1-2-3 while looking at those blocks of text you created in your mind. Works like a charm – try it.


This set of techniques put together was profound and powerful when I first got to know from the irisreading site. I was desperate to share this technique on my blog so other readers could benefit too. This dramatically changed the speed of my reading, and I hope it does for you too.

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