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In speed reading, people are taught to read much faster by avoiding the common habit of mentally vocalizing the words in our heads.

Is mental vocalization an unnecessary habit that can be scraped away without inhibiting comprehension?

Or rather, is this common mental process of imaginary vocalization a vital step in the process of comprehension?

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  • $\begingroup$ In my opinion, there is a reason why teachers distinguish between studying a text and skimming a text. For understanding the general idea speed reading/skimming may suffice, but if you actually want to know the details you do need to go through texts more slowly. This allows you to rehearse words, and place things in context more easily. I have nothing to back this up though. $\endgroup$ May 20 '16 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ @RobinKramer Well that's possible. But, it's also possible that we can methodically improve performance by stripping a mental meta-process (mentally vocalizing) that doesn't actually contribute to comprehension. It might, it might not, I think only science can solve the problem objectively, hence my question. Of course reading too fast will inhibit comprehension - my question is more of whether the mental process of silent vocalization while reading, in itself, is a vital part of the comprehension process. $\endgroup$
    – J.Todd
    May 20 '16 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ A quick Google of "neurobollocks speed reading" gives some interesting results. Might be worth starting there. For example, this article nytimes.com/2016/04/17/opinion/sunday/… $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    May 21 '16 at 1:50

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