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koreth

Techniques for increasing reading speed?

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Shadowdh
In fact, this is exactly the point when I realised that my reading speed is criminal

I hear that... its that sinking feeling you get when you realise your speed just doesnt want to keep up with the timing of the exam... sigh...

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Lu
I think most people who read fast in their native language find that they eventually are able to read much faster once they enter college and are given a ton of stuff to read (as Scoobyqueen said). I think the challenge is to try to re-create that sort of intensity for oneself, if possible.
I learned this somewhere in my first year of uni, when I had to read an academic book in English. I struggled through it word by word, sentence by sentence, until I realised that if I just took it page by page and just read on instead of laboring over it, things went much faster and easier too.

(My problem is more that I can't read slowly and ponder over words and sentences. Chinese is good for that, helps me slow down.)

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Gleaves

I came across an blog post on speed reading, and wondered if similar techniques would work for Chinese. It mentions Spreeder, an online little app that is designed to train you to stop sounding out words in your head and backtracking.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as copying and pasting English. You'll need a Chinese text that is segmented (has spaces in between the words). MDGB can do this. Attached is a random BBC article) that is segmented.

Not really sure how effective it would be for improving Chinese reading speeds, but I thought I would share as it was kinda fun.

bbc us china steel .txt

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Peiruo

I know this thread dates from a while back - but wanted to say a very big thanks for everyone who took the time to contribute - it is exactly what I have been looking for.

:clap

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crazillo

If you read an article in a foreign language and don't recognize a word, you can take a good guess if understanding this word is really crucial to get the meaning of the sentence. If you see a Chinese sentence, I find myself unsure whether the next charatcer is important or not. You can take some guesses by syntax and stuff (is it a subclause -> might be a conjunction / is it behind a 在 -> must be a 处所). If you don't know, it's very hard to guess the importance of the word. Skimming Chinese texts is a challenge.

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doraemon

Instead of reading Chinese character by character, it's better to divide a sentence up into a number of components to speed up the process:

e.g. instead of reading a sentence one character at a time- 中华人民共和国国务院总理温家宝,

you should divide it up (just in your head)- 中华人民共和国 国务院总理 温家宝

That way, you can pretty much just glance at each component and know what it means without having to actually read it. Try to ignore the voice in your head as well, it takes up a lot of time.

It's a lot like looking at a picture and trying to recognise someone/thing you know. ;)

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anonymoose

Instead of reading Chinese character by character, it's better to divide a sentence up into a number of components to speed up the process:

e.g. instead of reading a sentence one character at a time- 中华人民共和国国务院总理温家宝,

you should divide it up (just in your head)- 中华人民共和国 国务院总理 温家宝

That way, you can pretty much just glance at each component and know what it means without having to actually read it.

I agree with you 100%. But the problem is, how do you get to the stage to be able to do that? Presumably you have to start from reading character by character, and just keep on practising and practising until you can recognise larger and larger chunks in one glance.

I'm still holding out hope that one day I'll be able to 一目十行.

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skylee

I have been vetting the translation of two reports these days and it is such a painful process. The reports are long and boring and I have to read both the English and Chinese texts .... and I wish I could 一目十行. (Actually right now I pretend that I can as I am losing my patience and have started to skip things ...) :oops:

Luckily I am not a translator.

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doraemon

I agree with you 100%. But the problem is, how do you get to the stage to be able to do that? Presumably you have to start from reading character by character, and just keep on practising and practising until you can recognise larger and larger chunks in one glance.

I'm still holding out hope that one day I'll be able to 一目十行.

Yes, of course. You would obviously have to start reading one character at a time and over time the familiarity gained will allow you to read faster. I think increasing your vocabulary is very important, or else you wouldn't know where each new segment begins.

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renshanrenhai
Also, I’ve developed a theory that the eye recognizes Chinese via “meta-shapes”. For example, there was once a study that people could read at the same ease and speed (in English) if the first letter of a word was correct, but some subsequent letters were misspelled. I think that is because, to a large degree, when one is reading fast in one’s native language, you see the shapes of words, and you don’t actually sound out the consonants and vowels.
So, in my opinion, besides accumulating a lot of reading experience under your belt, you have to do a lot of speed reading drills, of different sorts, to get you eye to recognize bigger and bigger blocks, instantly.

It's quite so in my opinion.

Reading materials in your native language never makes you feel hard to identify the vocabulary from a sophisticated text mainly because you can easily and unconsciously destruct a complex sentence into some meaningful chunks, which is the prerequisite of a fluent skimming or scanning work. So it's not surprising to find ourselves get bogged down over and over when reading a foreign language materials.

Your reading speed and your reading skills mostly depend on how fast and how easily you can identify the chunks from a non-space sentence, and then the paragraph and the passage. Even if one has a 2000 vocabulary for a foreign language, he/she may still find it not easy to speed up in a reading material composed of those basic 2000 vocabulary. If you are in this case, the problem is not in your vocabulary, my suggestion is to check by yourself how familiar you are with them (i.e. how fast you can recognize them out when you take a glance at the sentence. ) However, recognizing out vocabulary from a sentence is the first step, the second step is how fast the meaning of this word can reflect in your mind.

In reading , we combine these two facets of vocabulary more, namely form and meaning; while in listening we get meaning through sounds. It's hard for a beginner level to get rid of the habit of reading out word by word in their mind i attribute this to the learner still can't identify the chunks quickly so they will read out word by word murmuredly to give their mind an interval to work out them into chucks. Still one has to train him/herself by visual reading with all your focus on recognizing chunks from text.

Fast reading practice within limited time is a need but you have to make sure the materials you use for a fast reading practice is at your level or only a bit higher. Reading a material right at your level, you can improve your reading skills; reading a material a bit beyond your level , you can enlarge your vocabulary and sentence patterns.

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MaLaTang

wushijiao hit it right on....read it in blocks, in units..it becomes so much easier to not only increase reading speed, but makes comprehension easier too.

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MaLaTang

just to add to my previous comment regarding 'reading in blocks'. all idioms consist of a 4 character 'block' the key is to get so familiar with the block that you only need to see the first two characters and the rest should automatically be anticipated. For ex, if you see 乱七...you brain should be expecting to see 八糟 coming after it. 乱七八糟 block registers。 when you see 刮目...expect to see 相看 following it...刮目相看。 i know i will have mastered chinese when i can go through those idioms like water.

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mikeedward

I don't think it's a matter of finding a speed-reading technique, but more of a need to increase vocabulary, character recognition, idioms, etc. The fastest way to do this that I've found is to download novels (I create them as txt files) and read them with the Pleco reader. Tap any characters you don't recognize, or just constantly hit the next button and just read the definitions you don't know. I've read several full-length Chinese novels this way and I'm by no means an advanced student. My reading speed has increased significantly, as has character recognition, vocabulary, etc.

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