Subvocalization is a common habit that occurs when you say words in your head while reading. Here’s how to avoid it and improve your reading proficiency.
How to avoid subvocalization?
There are various reasons people have trouble reading fluently. Reading difficulties can stem from dyslexia or ADHD or for a variety of other reasons. All of them can have a major impact on how proficient we are when consuming written content.
Another factor, calld subvocalization, can limit any reader’s flow when dealing with unfamiliar words. And though it’s natural, it can disrupt how well you read aloud, making your life a tiny bit harder. In the following text, we’ll explain what it is and how to overcome it.
What is subvocalization?
Subvocalization is a reading habit that involves silent speech. This vocalization happens in our minds, so only we hear it. It usually happens when we consume written content. Scientists explain it as a natural process related to short-term memory that can be alternately helpful or disruptive, depending on how excessive it is.
In its helpful iteration, subvocalization allows us to become better at comprehending words and their relationship to one another. However, it can also be a bad thing by slowing our reading down so much that reading aloud can become almost impossible.
How to minimize subvocalization
Unfortunately, there’s no way to stop subvocalization completely, despite what some speed-reading programs claim. We can, instead, avoid and minimize it to increase reading proficiency and become all-around better narrators. Here are some practical ways you can improve your reading ability to avoid this common challenge.
Use a pointer while reading
All speed-reading techniques rely on a basic technique of using your hand to guide your eye movement and peripheral vision. Although it might appear a bit juvenile, it’s actually a great way to focus and follow words in a constant flow. This allows for better reading comprehension beyond just the sound of the word and overall read-aloud proficiency. It will also minimize the chance of fixating on one word, which is a common habit all readers have.
Listen to music while reading
It’s proven that listening to music can hugely benefit your reading. Music not only minimizes subvocalization but also provides auditory stimulus to help you concentrate better, whether you live in a noisy city such as New York or a quieter rural area. Nevertheless, it’s key to point out how not all genres of music can do that. Relaxing classical music with a slower tempo will fit better with any reader instead of some fast-paced pop tracks or heavy music.
Occupy your mouth
Eating or chewing something while reading is another great way to minimize subvocalization. The reason is simple. When you occupy your mouth, the chance of your inner voice forming words is close to zero. As such, you should try to chew gum, bite a pencil or suck on candy if you’re having issues with subvocalization.
An average person’s speaking speed is somewhere between 200-250 words per minute, or wpm. If you try to increase those numbers by a hundred when reading to yourself, you’ll have less time to say the huge number of words in your head. This isn’t the easiest way to minimize subvocalization, but it can be useful to some. Don’t worry about mistakes. You’ll get the hang of it over time.
Invite a guest speaker
Try to read groups of words with a different voice. You can imagine yourself sounding like a fictional character or a celebrity you know well, and you’ll minimize subvocalization by a mile.
How Speechify can help with subvocalization
In addition to the five classic tips we’ve mentioned, it’s also possible to use assistive technology to boost your reading skills. Text-to-speech technology can be particularly helpful. The best example is an app called Speechify. It’s superior to any speed-reading course.
This TTS tool uses machine learning, artificial intelligence and optical character recognition to turn any reading material into fully audible speech word-for-word, using natural-sounding AI voices. There are over 30 of these, and they work in over 15 languages.
How can Speechify help with minimizing subvocalization? It’s simple. When you paste a line of text into the app and press play, the app will highlight words that the AI voice is reading. When highlighting occurs, you’ll have an easier time focusing on individual words.
But that’s not all. Another benefit of using Speechify to reduce subvocalization is that you can change the reading speed of the AI narrator. Speechify goes up to 900 wpm, but that’s not necessary. Just set it over 300 wpm, and subvocalisation in your head will decrease. You can turn any document into a podcast-like experience. You’ll never think about reading Word documents the same way again.
If you’re looking to try Speechify out, we have great news for you. The app is available on all popular devices and platforms. You can use it on both iOS and Android devices, as well as a standalone app on Mac computers. It’s also available as an add-on for web browsers. Click here to start using Speechify for free.
What is subvocalization?
Subvocalization is silent reading or speech that we utter internally when reading. We do so by producing minuscule larynx movements, just as we do when speaking normally. The habit of subvocalization can affect our reading both positively and negatively. As a bad habit, it prevents us from reading aloud at a steady pace as we focus on single words by re-reading them over and over.
How to prevent subvocalization?
Unfortunately, you can’t prevent subvocalization completely. You can, instead, minimize it to achieve better reading proficiency by practicing various speed-reading techniques or using text-to-speech assistive technology such as Speechify.
How to minimize subvocalization?
Simple ways to minimize subvocalization include:
Using your finger as a pointer while reading;
Listening to relaxing music;
Occupying your mouth with gum or hard candy;
Upping your reading speed over 300 wpm;
Distracting yourself by counting or impersonating another voice;
Using Speechify text-to-speech app.
Why does subvocalization happen?
Subvocalization is natural, meaning that it happens to everyone. Scientists think it allows our minds to more easily access meanings, memorizing and comprehending both groups of words and single words. They argue it reduces cognitive load.