How To Read Groups of Words
Reading words in groups is a speed reading technique that can help you read faster and improve your comprehension.
When we were little, we were taught to read one word at a time. However, our vocabulary improved as we got older, and we became capable of reading groups of words.
But just because we can read a group of words doesn’t mean we actually do it.
Part of the reason why people read slowly is that they’ve developed a habit of reading one word at a time. This habit is commonly called “fixation.”
Thankfully, you can already read a group of words and sometimes do it without realizing it. For example, you commonly read groups of 2 or 3 words when driving a car and looking at street signs.
A good example is if you saw a sign that said “New York City,” you would probably be able to read that group of 3 words in just one glance or one fixation. However, if the words “New York City” were on the printed page, most people would read each word.
In contrast with seeing the word “NYC,” the same idea comes across. Remember, we’re reading for ideas, not reading for words.
This post will discuss a few techniques to help you read a group of words, including hand pacing and chunking. No one method works for everyone.
Nevertheless, it is advantageous to you, whether a student or professional, to learn how to read groups of words on the page (or computer). Here are two ways to do it.
1. On printed pages, try the “2-Fixation Technique”
The “2-Fixation Technique” requires you to make two fixations per line while reading. The simplest way to do this exercise is by using your hand, finger, or pen as a guide.
You want to fixate one time on the first half of the line and then fixate again on the second half of the line. You can do this with your finger by tapping on one half of the line and then the next.
It’s best to imagine the line being cut in half with an invisible line. You want to fixate once on each half with your eyes using your finger or pen as a guide.
Try your best to see as many words as possible in that area when you make one fixation. You want to avoid just looking at one word.
If your lines are very long, you can adjust this exercise to make three fixations per line.
Initially, you may find it challenging to get the same kind of comprehension as when you did not use this method of reading. Therefore, it’s generally recommended that you initially practice this technique on material that is not extremely difficult to read.
Use reading material that is low to medium level in difficulty. Once you get used to reading this way, reading the more difficult material with stronger comprehension will become easier.
2. On the computer, try using AccelaReader.com
AccelaReader helps you read groups of words on the computer screen by flashing text on the screen at a speed that you set. You can copy and paste the text into this application and adjust how many words are blinked on the screen.
In the “settings” menu, set the “chunk size” to “2” or “3” words, and see if you can read those groups of words at a speed that you’re comfortable with.
With practice, you’ll want to adjust the speed (WPM) and “chunk size” higher. Most people find it easiest to start with 2 or 3 words and move up from there.
AccelaReader will help you read groups of words by flashing them quickly on the computer screen.
3. Hand pacing
Hand pacing, also known as the pointer method, is a technique that can help you read groups of words faster. Hand pacing is one of the top three recommended speed reading techniques.
The hand pacing method is easy to apply. All you need do is point your index finger and move it along the line of text you want to read, or you can hold a card that serves as a guide under each line and draw it down the page as you read.
Whether you consider yourself a slow, fast, or passive reader, hand pacing will help you read faster because it forces your eyes to follow and process the group of words appearing in the focus area.
Furthermore, hand pacing helps you reduce fixation on a specific word or letter. As you move your finger along the lines, your eyes are forced to move along, picking up words, improving your eye coordination, and changing existing habits of wrong eye movement.
When you apply this technique as a beginner, you may retain very little information. However, as you consistently practice using the hand pacing method, you train your brain to become comfortable with the technique.
The hand pacing method will help you read a group of words fast, improve your comprehension, boost your performance, and keep your focus.
There are advanced hand pacing techniques such as the zig-zag style that you can learn, which will enable you to read groups of words, but it may require some practice and experience to understand what you read at a faster pace.
The zig-zag style can be perfectly used with the chunking methods, which we will discuss next.
Chunking breaks down texts into smaller parts, making it easier and faster for you to understand and retain information.
It’s a technique that many people are familiar with, but few know how it works or what benefits it has.
When we read a passage in a book or article, our brain has to process each word individually and make sense of it. However, reading each word is not an efficient style of reading; it takes time and causes us to lose focus on what we are reading.
Chunking helps you focus on the text rather than getting distracted by the letters in front of your eyes. It enables you to minimize the number of eye fixations and improve your ability to read a group of words.
Remember, a group of words carry ideas; chunking words helps you to achieve a higher and faster reading performance. If you’re struggling with understanding a long sentence, break it down into shorter ones and try reading them in blocks of words.
Here is the core technique to learn to apply the chunking method effectively:
Expand your eye vision
Expanding your eye vision helps to improve reading speed, and you do this by training yourself to look at the space in the middle of two words instead of the specific word you want to read. With some training, you can scan a group of words.
Learning how to expand your eye vision makes mastering word hopping easy.
Read How to expand your eye vision to learn more about this technique.
Word hopping is a technique in which a reader skips over words instead of reading them in order. The goal is to read faster with less effort.
For example, Jesse is a girl that plays football. You might just read, “Jesse plays football.”
Some people think it’s skipping words; however, it is not. Your eyes still see the other words, but you only read fewer words.
Note that in many cases, sentences or phrases contain filler words that are not essential to the meaning of a phrase.
Word hopping can help you read a text faster and comprehend it better.
Practice everyday reading using a well-designed program
Practice, practice, practice!
The importance of practicing for mastery cannot be overemphasized.
Becoming a master at anything requires practice, and that includes learning to read a group of words. At Iris reading, we have programs that can help you become a fast-paced reader in no time.
Please visit speed reading classes & memory courses to learn more.
In summary, reading a group of words aims to avoid fixation so you can read and process information faster. This not only improves your productivity as a student or professional but also helps boost your confidence.
Some people may find the hand pacing technique easier, others the chunking method and some may prefer a combination of both.
However, the easiest among these techniques is the hand pacing technique. Start with that and then try the other method discussed in this post.
We also recommend you check out Iris Reading’s speed reading courses and practice using the speed reading tools. You will see yourself reading faster and comprehending large chunks of materials effortlessly in no time
Paul is the founder of Iris Reading, the largest provider of speed-reading and memory courses. His workshops have been taught to thousands of students and professionals worldwide at institutions that include: NASA, Google, HSBC and many Fortune 500 companies.