Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Effect Of Speed Reading Courses On Reading Authentic Texts

In the article, “Speed reading courses and their effect on reading authentic texts: A preliminary investigation”, the author proposed research question deals with whether reading speed gains measured in words per minute on controlled speed reading texts transfer to other types of texts, because the texts in speed reading courses are written within a restricted lexicon.


The author notes that in the classroom, there are three principal approaches to increase reading speed:
1)      Extensive reading which includes that learners read materials that contain only known vocabulary and they are reading a lot due to the learners reading what they like.
2)      Repeated reading which requires the learners to read the same text repeatedly, either silently or aloud.
3)      Speed Reading courses which consist of a set number of texts of a fixed length, written within a restricted lexicon, followed by several multiple choice questions to analyze how much the learner “absorbed”.

This study was conducted with four intact classes on a university preparation course at a New Zealand university. All the teachers were familiar with and used speed readings, but for this study one teacher agreed not to use a speed reading course with her class. At the beginning of the course, all students took a Vocabulary Levels Test (VLT), which tests various vocabulary frequency levels and provides information to guide future vocabulary learning. The teachers teaching the speed reading course then chose a book that fitted the class profile, but could have been more difficult for a few students. The three authentic texts were all taken from a long essay written by George Orwell about his school days. The time period for the writing was around the time of WWI, and it was likely that the topic would be unfamiliar to all the learners.

The results of the study showed gains for students doing a speed reading course in reading speed as measured in wpm on speed reading texts and on authentic texts. Specific conclusions are:
1) Students who do a speed reading course are very likely to increase their reading speed from the beginning to the end of the speed reading course.
2) Students who do a speed reading course are significantly more likely than those who do not do a speed reading course to read an authentic text more quickly at the end of the speed reading course than they did at the start of the speed reading course.

The findings suggest that a speed reading course may contribute to faster reading speeds on other types of texts, but the author indicates that there remains a need for further experimental research into the impact of speed reading courses. Finally, the author suggests that opportunities to read, possibly through an extensive reading program are needed so that learners can maintain their gains in reading speed.

Macalister, J. (2010). Speed reading courses and their effect on reading authentic texts: A preliminary investigation. Reading in a Foreign Language, 22(1), 104–116. Retrieved from


  1. Any idea what 'authentic texts' are? I looked into it a little and it -seems- to be just... texts from a culture/area whose language you are not native to and are trying to learn. So in this case, the reading speed increase is overcoming additional obstacles of language in addition to comprehension.

  2. The authors stated that authentic texts are texts not written for language learning purposes, since texts used in speed reading courses are texts that are written with a restricted, known vocabulary all that the learners are reading is expected to be familiar to them.

  3. Want to know more about the Speed Reading Course, then you can easily visit this link and read out the full post.