Sub-vocalisation is a popular term in the reading world….

Its sometimes referred to as silent speech.

Which is basically the internal speech typically made when reading; it provides the sound of the word as it is read. Subvocalization happens naturally when reading, and it helps the mind to access meanings to comprehend and remember what is read, potentially reducing cognitive load. 

One of the recent question I saw on in an online reading forum basically asked whether it was possible to completely remove subvocalization.

This post will answer this as best as it can be addressed….

With that said, is it possible to remove subvocalization?

It’s not possible to completely eliminate sub-vocalization but you can reduce it by utilizing speed reading techniques such as using eyes to follow and read words while relying less on sub-vocalization. It takes some practice to get used to but it can make a huge difference for somebody looking to reduce sub-vocalization.

Downside to sub-vocalization

Most people generally look at subvocalization as a bad way to read. The two common reasons for this are discussed below.

Slows down reading

The fact is, reading words with your inner voice certainly slows down the process because you’ll be stuck at a slow pace since you’re carrying out two tasks.

One is the reading of words itself and the second is the sub-vocalization.

For somebody looking to get through text quickly, this would certainly be a waste of time.

Therefore this is one of the many reasons why most people want to eliminate sub-vocalization completely.

Depends on your talking speed

The way you talk inside your head is basically how you speak out loud. This means that if you speak slowly verbatim.. then you’ll likewise sub-vocalize slowly.

This is obviously unfortunate for people that speak slow because it would mean their process of reading would be slow.

There’s nothing wrong with reading slow but it’s not always what is wanted by people.

For example, a college student prepping for an exam will want to move through study material with a level of quickness. In such a situation sub-vocalization would work against them..

Of course there are some techniques that can be employed to reduce your inner voice and I’ll discuss some of these below… so keep reading.

Importance of sub-vocalization

In as much as sub-vocalization may be a bad thing for some people, it certainly does have some productive use to it… so you shouldn’t completely dismiss it.

I’ll discuss some of the ways in which subvocalization can be helpful below.

Helps comprehension

Sub-vocalization is a great thing for comprehension and understanding because you’re basically reciting words back to yourself.

For some people, this may not be all that important but for most trying to gain a deeper understanding of what is being read, sub-vocalization can actually be really helpful.

improves the translation of meaning

When we read books we basically do it to understand the material.

For various reasons of course and this goes for all books.

Even genres like fiction…. because at the end of the day you want to understand what the author is trying to say and you also want to understand and know the meaning being a book.

Sub-vocalization is a mode of processing information… while it may be not great for most people but it can actually improve the way you translate and understand the words and message in a book.

Quite way of doing things

Not all people are trained to read only with their eyes. The fact is, this technique takes some doing to actually master.

The reason for this is simple. We are all basically taught from a young age to read in our hearts. That’s usually when we begin sub-vocalization.

Therefore, to break away from such a thing is not easy and almost impossible (for me any way).

With that said, we are taught to read with our hearts because it is the silent way of reading. But little are we ever taught that it is possible to read silently without subvocalization.

Gives you time to process

Another good reason why subvocalization can be helpful is because it allows you the time to process what you read.

Let’s face it, reading with your voice in your mind is not a fast task and I’ll personally confess to not being a very fast reader.

But one thing that has to be appreciated with reading slow is its ability to allow you to process things.

Most people think reading slow is a bad thing but that is not really true.

Reading slow is a good way to take time in understanding whatever it is you’re reading. With subvocalization this process can even be better carried our.

Ways to reduce sub-vocalization

Below are some ways and techniques that you can use to reduce subvocalization if you happen to find it not useful at all..

Finger reading

If you have ever explored speed reading before, then you’ve obviously encountered the finger reading technique.

Finger reading is basically pointing on words as you read. It is one of those reading techniques we are told to avoid at a young age…. but guess what?

As you’re about to find out, Finger reading is a great way to minimise subvocalization.

This is the reason why you’ll find most people looking to read a book quickly will use Finger reading to go through words much more quickly.

Healthy distractions

Reading in certain places that are quite is great and it is the only way I read. It is actually recommended.

After all, being in a room full of distractions is bad for reading right?

Well yes… certain things can be distracting while other things may be rightly distracting.

For example, a great way to reduce subvocalization is to distract yourself so your inner voice doesn’t begin talking.

A great way to do this is chewing gum while you read.

If you’ve never tried it do and you’ll see it’s use.

Music

Most people don’t like to read with music and I actually agree with them to a certain extent.

Music can be a great distraction. But as we’ve obviously discussed above… some distractions are better than others.

If you want to reduce subvocalization and focus more on the words then you can listen to music while you read.

Of course you have to choose music that won’t distract you too much…but will help keep your mind off your inner voice.

Fast reading with vision

Another speed reading technique that you can use to reduce sub-vocalization is reading with your eyes. This involves looking only at words and following them with your eyes just like you would if you had employed Finger reading.

Helpful Resources

Speed Reading Tips: 9 Ways to Minimize Subvocalization

How To Reduce Subvocalization (Explained!) – Iris Reading

3 Simple Ways to Stop Subvocalization – wikiHow

How to Stop Subvocalizing: My Surprising Solution – Magnetic Memory Method

How to Stop Subvocalizing: The Ultimate Guide – Effective Learning Lab

Is It Better To Read In Your Head?


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Is It Better To Read In Your Head? - Life and Reading · May 24, 2022 at 6:13 am

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