There is some disagreement among speed reading courses as to whether or not using your hand as a tracking device is a good idea. We have already talked about using an index card to stop the technique of re-reading, and once you have succeeded at that you can begin to read with your hand.
Some speed reading courses will argue that using your hand underneath a line of text or using your finger to run it under a line of text can actually slow down your reading. Only you will know if in fact this is true for you, but most people find that by running their finger lightly under the line of text they are reading, they manage to increase their reading speed.
This might seem to be in stark contrast with our recommendation that you use an index card and move it down a page of copy as you read in order to disengage from your tendency to re-read, but once you have untrained yourself from re-reading, you can then use this technique in order to increase your reading speed.
As we move into the final five lessons in this course, you’ll see that we are moving away from reducing your bad habits to creating new, better, and faster reading habits. This is the first of those specific speed reading techniques.
To successfully speed read, you have to learn to read fluidly and smoothly. Training your eyes into a consistent action moving left to right without pausing and without delay, is an essential part of speed reading. That’s why using your finger under a line of text can help to increase your reading speed. Your eyes will follow your finger, no matter how fast it moves. As you learn to read faster and faster, you’ll find that you can move your finger along the line of text faster and your eyes will naturally follow.
Here is how to learn this technique:
- Start by reading a block of text as you normally do. By now you should naturally not subvocalize, and you should naturally not re-read. At this point, read as quickly as you can comfortably but don’t worry about speed reading.
- Next, take your finger and lightly run it under the line of text you’re reading. Do this for three or four lines of text and let your eyes naturally follow the pace that your fingers set.
- Now, increase the speed by which your finger moves across the page and notice as your eyes naturally follow your finger. At this point your comprehension level will be fairly high because you’ve read the same block of text more than once, but you might also notice that the reading becomes easier as you run your eyes over the text. Because by now you have learned to stop re-reading, to focus on what you need to read and what can be left alone, and to stop subvocalizing, you can begin to focus on the speed at which you read.
As a final lesson:
- Test your reading speed again. Go back to whichever online reading speed tester that you used earlier and test your reading speed again. Has it increased?