I hate myself!
I like walking into a book store. I browse through all the many deals on the shelf, trying to look for something on business, personal growth or marketing. And normally I would walk out of a book store with two, maybe three books in my hand.
I think you know where I am going with this…
What I hate about myself is this… weeks later, I glanced at my personal bookshelf, those books that I bought a few weeks earlier are still there — untouched!
People talk about all the must read books in your life like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Awaken the Giant Within, As a Man Thinketh, Think and Grow Rich, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Rich Dad – Poor Dad, Science of Getting Rich, The Magic of Thinking Big, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The 48 Laws of Power… and the list goes on.
Those books and more… I think I have only read maybe 5% of them. And I am too embarrassed to even tell you which one.
Sometimes when you think about it, you feel like there is this theory where you need to fail X amount of times before you can succeed. Like you need to throw 10,000 basketball shots before you become a sure 3-pointer. Like you need to test 10,000 elements before you found your lightbulb. Like you need to learn and memorize 10,000 sentences in another language before you become fluent in it.
And also probably, read 10,000 books to make yourself a better person.
The question is no longer about how many actions you need to take, but rather how long would it take for you complete them.
If you take 1 year to complete it, maybe success is yours within a year. But if you take 5 years, then you shall have your success in five years.
You learn about people like John F. Kennedy, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Mahathir Mohamad and many more successful and important figures — one thing, among others, they all have in common is this — they are avid readers.
At one point, I feel like I am missing a lot because I don’t read enough. Sometimes you bought so many books that you feel so guilty that you never finished any of them. And you thought to yourself, “if only reading is effortless to me.”
Imagine the conversation pieces that you would have stored in your head, to be able to speak to anyone, break the ice, build network; be it a 18-year old janitor, or a 63-year old college professor.
That is when I thought that I need to acquire a new skill — speed reading.
Naturally the internet addict that I am, I looked online for places that I can acquire this skill.
And I found this course on Udemy.com by Jonathan Levi and his friends, Dr. Lev Goldentouch and Prof. Anna Goldentouch. It is called Become a SuperLearner: Learn Speed Reading & Boost Memory. This is the course I am taking right now to help me with my speed reading.
In case you don’t know what Udemy.com is, it is a online marketplace where people and organizations can create, sell (or give away for free) and buy online courses.
Currently they host over 30,000 courses. You can expect to see courses on almost anything from programming, web design, martial arts, business, productivity and more.
So this is the review of what I think of the course so far. Mind you, I am still going through the course but so far, I think this a great course that you can take if you feel like how I felt — feeling being left behind because not reading as much as I need, and needing to make reading effortless.
Why did I Pick this Course?
What made me pick this course is Jonathan’s argument on how you should learn to speed read. Apparently a lot of similar courses did it wrong. Which is why Jonathan failed twice when trying to learn speed reading in the past.
In the beginning, Jonathan Levi made a strong argument on why many people failed at speed reading, just like he did. Many people tried learning speed reading but they do not acquire the skills to retain what they have read in memory. Imagine that, you just read a whole page of article in less than 10 seconds but you can’t remember what you just read, making it pointless.
Jonathan said that he attempted to learn this skill twice before but he failed. But when he met a colleague, Dr. Lev, what he thought was just browsing through and fiddling his finger scrolling the screen, was actually reading. He sent articles for Dr. Lev to read and Dr. Lev would eventually replied in minutes with so much insights. Jonathan even thought that Dr. Lev might have read the piece before that he can provide such a response in such a short time. But no… he speed reads.
So Jonathan trained with Dr. Lev and his wife, Prof. Anna on how to achieve this. At first he didn’t feel any improvement. But when he was doing his Masters degree, he started to realized something. When the professor told everyone in the room to read certain passage from a certain book, he was the first to raise his head up because he finished reading it, while his other course mates would take another 2 to 5 minutes before they would finish.
That is why this course is a SuperLearner course where you will learn and go through some exercise to train your mind to remember things better, and then learn speed reading. The earlier part is all about boosting your memory, especially the short term. And later, half way through, then only you start with speed reading.
Increase Your Reading Speed in 6 Weeks
That is the general plan here. But I have to warn you that it takes real effort. There are exercises that you must do and complete. If you are willing to spend about 30 minutes a day going through the course and doing the exercise, you should be able to increase your reading speed. Though, just like learning anything else, this is not easy. Especially when we are so used to doing it in a different there. What you will be doing here is breaking old habits and instilling new ones. And that is never an easy thing to do. So, if you don’t read much, maybe it will be easier for you 😉
Maybe the first thing that you should do is checkout the program syllabus and what you are expected to go through on a weekly basis. This same document is also available in PDF in the course.
Click on the image on the right to checkout the program syllabus –>
You can see from the content structure how to course is laid out. Initially Jonathan emphasizes on the importance of boosting your memory and why it is crucial when trying to boost your reading speed. You can’t speed read much when you can’t retain what you have read.
I should also mention there are quizzes through out the course and in between sections. These may caught you off guard but it will help you understand how well you are progressing. But don’t worry, there is no time limit on the quizzes and you can always repeat them again if you answered them wrong.
Before anything, you go through a simple exercise and quiz to determine your current speed of reading. And then, Jonathan walks you through some memory techniques and exercises that you have to do to boost your memory. The early part talks about the mental marker technique, and then chaining those markers together as you read an article. This will help you retain and make sense of the articles that you read.
For certain type of reading like serious articles or academic, Jonathan recommends that you pre-read before the actual reading. You don’t really have to understand anything at this point. But just skim through the pages in 2 to 3 seconds per page. The idea for this is for you to create some of the mental markers before the actual reading. If you pre-read it right, you will be increasing your actual reading by 5 to 8 times.
Reading with Your Eyes and about Saccades
In any speed reading techniques, they will tell you to read with your eyes, and suppress your voice and your inner voice. In other words, what you want to achieve is to be able see and recognize a word when reading, and not trying to make the sound of the word, even if they are in your mind.
Next Jonathan introduces the concept of saccades. This is where you visualize that the horizontal sentences you are reading are separated into 2 to 3 columns, where each column contains between 2 to 4 words. These columns are saccades. The idea is that your eyes can jump from one saccades to another faster than sliding through the text word by word. The objective here is to train your eyes so that you can read with wider saccades. Initially, maybe you are used to 3 saccades, you want to move on to have only two saccades when reading the same text.
The lesser saccades you need to read a horizontal text, the lesser jump you need to make when reading a line of text. There is also a game exercise to train your eyes for this, to train your eyes to wider saccades.
And More Exercises
And it doesn’t stop there. After the saccades, the course gets into more reading exercise. For example Jonathan will tell you that to not use your finger when reading. And also, never, ever re-read what you have read above. There is a reason for this and Jonathan will explain why. As a trick to help you train for this, there is this card trick. You use a card to highlight where you are reading. But instead of putting it below the text, you put on top of the text, to prevent yourself from reading what you have read.
To go further, the course dive dipper into other memory techniques such speed mental markers, mind mapping and other stuffs. It also talks about how we normally slide back into old habits when trying to unlearn old habits and adapting new ones. Jonathan will help you with that.
Has this Helped Me?
Yes. I indeed increased my reading speed a little by now. But I definitely need to practice and exercise more though. Bear in mind that English is not my mother tongue and I am practicing by reading English text. Before taking the course, I read at about 100 words per minute (wpm). After half way through the course, I think I can read at about 300 wpm retaining about 75% comprehension, that is if I pre-read it good enough.
Though I am still struggling with my inner voice, wher I am still trying to “pronounce” every word, and also with creating better mental markers, faster.
But perhaps you can do better than me. If you would like to increase your reading, I think this course will help.
Do check it out. Have a great one today, everyday!