Before you proceed to the advanced steps to learn speed reading, let me remind you about how essential it is to have the habit of reading every day, and reading silently for the specific purpose of becoming a speed reader. We can compare this to a person who has first time arrived to a place. In his first glance, all he sees are unfamiliar, and he has to look at all things surrounding him one by one to identify them. If he seldom visited that same place, there were few things he would recognize, but only few. The more frequent he goes to this place, the more familiar it becomes, and even without turning his head from left to right, he can tell what are on those sides. You will appreciate the point I am reiterating when you start doing the following steps:
1. Learn to read in clumps. Most people tend to read word by word. It is therefore understood that when you read this way, your reading is slow, as a matter of fact, too slow. You have to learn to take in more than one word at a time. How you should read a text must be similar to how the lines of an editorial are typed in newspapers – they are clumped. Notice how faster it is to read news in a newspaper; since each line is typed short (like in clump), your eyes grasp all they see in the line then quickly glide down to the next line, taking in again the whole line of words as one unit. Try doing it now, and you will see that it works; your reading speed will increase.
2. Be familiar with word groups. First, let me tell the difference between a word clump and a word group. Like I explained above, a word clump is words taken in as one and read as one unit. By slicing the sentence into two, three or four parts, depending on the length of the sentence, you can form word clumps. It will depend also on the scope of your peripheral vision (Later, on the third step, I will explain what peripheral vision is.) the count of word clumps you can make in a sentence. This only shows that word clumps are words that are grouped but without one-whole meaning. Word groups, on the other hand, are common group words that possess definite meaning. They are, we may say, common expressions and figures of speech, like idioms, verb phrase, collocations, phrasal verbs, etc. The taking in of word groups does not rely on your peripheral vision, but on your familiarity to common expressions. Once your eyes scan a familiar expression, you do not have to glide your sight to all the words in that phrase to be able to see what the next words are. Your eyes and brain quickly decode the familiar expression, and you can swiftly jump to the next word clump or word group. So, the more familiar you are with different word groups, the faster you read.
3. Stretch your peripheral vision. Stretching your peripheral vision is expanding the scope your eyes can see in a glance. But what is peripheral vision? Look around you, and then fixate your eyes on something. The thing where you fixate your eyes on is vivid, of course. The other objects close to that thing and which you may be seeing too, but not as vivid as the one your eyes are fixated, are objects of your peripheral vision. The farthest your peripheral vision can see, the better. If your peripheral vision can catch four or five words in a single glance, it means that you read fast. If you can take in seven words or more at a time, you are a speed reader.
To sum up, it is your peripheral vision that allows you to read as many words as you can in just one glance, and if you have a narrow vision, if you cannot read in clumps, and if you are familiar with only few word groups, then you will not be able to do speed reading.