You’re an avid reader, you say? Well, that’s fantastic. But have you ever wondered how you could power through those stacks of books, articles, or reports quicker? That’s where speed reading comes in, and the big elephant in the room when mastering it? Subvocalization. So, let’s dive into understanding and taming this beast.

What is Subvocalization?

Imagine reading this sentence in your mind. Did you “hear” a voice? That’s subvocalization, or “silent speech”. It’s the inner voice you hear when reading silently, as if you’re saying the words aloud. We’re taught to read this way as kids, but as we grow older and seek to read faster, it can hold us back.

Subvocalization: Good or Bad?

Is subvocalization an arch-nemesis for readers? Not necessarily. It plays a role in comprehension and memory retention. However, if you’re looking to speed read, it’s an aspect you’d want to minimize. After all, your mind can process text much faster than your “inner voice” can read it out.

Improve your speed reading with our article:
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The Science Behind Subvocalization

The Role of the Brain in Subvocalization

Subvocalization is deeply rooted in how our brains process written information. It’s linked to the brain’s speech and language centers—Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area— suggesting our brains interpret reading as a form of language processing.

Understanding Silent Speech

Ever caught yourself moving your lips or tongue while reading? That’s a physical manifestation of subvocalization. It goes to show that silent speech isn’t entirely silent; it involves tiny muscular movements that could be detected with electromyography.

The Impact of Subvocalization on Speed Reading

Why Subvocalization Slows Down Reading

So, how does subvocalization play the villain in the story of speed reading? It boils down to the fact that we can think faster than we can speak. Subvocalization, in essence, puts a speed limit on our reading ability because we are confined to “reading” at a pace we can speak.

The Equation: Subvocalization and Reading Comprehension

Here’s the kicker: while minimizing subvocalization can help you read faster, you don’t want to eliminate it entirely. Why? Because it plays a role in understanding and retaining what you read. It’s all about striking a balance.

Techniques to Minimize Subvocalization

Shushing the Inner Voice

One way to minimize subvocalization is to consciously quiet your inner voice. This doesn’t mean you stop “hearing” the words; it’s more about not letting them dominate your reading process. Mindful reading can be key to achieving this.

Speeding up with Visual Aids

Another way to ditch the pace set by your inner voice is to use visual aids like your finger or a pen to guide your reading. This can help set a faster pace and keep your focus.

Employing the Art of Chunking

Reading in chunks rather than word by word can also reduce subvocalization. Instead of reading each word as an individual unit, your eyes can scan and comprehend several words at a glance.

Get the low down on chunking for speed reading right here:
How to Use Chunking for Speed Reading: Unlock Your Reading Potential

Advanced Strategies to Reduce Subvocalization

Utilizing Speed Reading Tools

In the digital age, there’s no shortage of tools to help minimize subvocalization. There are even apps that can guide your eyes to read at a faster pace, reducing the time for subvocalization to occur.

The Role of Practice in Mastering Speed Reading

Just like any other skill, practice makes perfect when it comes to speed reading. Consistently applying these techniques will help you get better over time.

The Journey Ahead: Life without Subvocalization

Fostering an Environment for Speed Reading

Setting up the right environment can also aid in minimizing subvocalization. A quiet and comfortable reading space, good lighting, and ensuring you’re in the right mindset can all contribute to better speed reading.

Dealing with Setbacks: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Minimizing subvocalization is not something that will happen overnight. There might be setbacks, but remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Keep at it and progress will come.


  1. What is subvocalization?
    • Subvocalization is the act of “saying” words in your head as you read, also known as silent speech.
  2. Is subvocalization bad for reading?
    • Not necessarily. Subvocalization can aid comprehension and memory retention, but it can slow down reading speed.
  3. How can I minimize subvocalization?
    • Techniques include conscious quieting of the inner voice, using visual aids, chunking, and utilizing speed reading tools.
  4. Are there tools to help reduce subvocalization?
    • Yes, there are several speed reading apps like Spreeder and Outread that can help guide your eyes to read at a faster pace.
  5. Does reducing subvocalization affect comprehension?
    • It can if taken to the extreme. While minimizing subvocalization can increase reading speed, it plays a role in comprehension and retention, so it’s about finding a balance.
  6. Does reducing subvocalization require practice?
    • Absolutely. As with any skill, practice is key to mastering speed reading and reducing subvocalization.


Subvocalization may seem like a stumbling block to speed reading, but with understanding, practice, and the right strategies, it can be minimized. So it’s time to set your reading prowess free, cast off the shackles of subvocalization, and embrace the realm of speed reading. Remember, every reader’s journey is unique. Don’t compare your pace or progress with others. The aim is to improve your own reading efficiency and comprehension, and that can only be judged by you.

How to Minimize Subvocalization when Speed Reading may seem like a daunting task. It requires the unraveling of habits ingrained since childhood and the forging of a new path. But as with any great journey, the rewards can be immeasurable. Who knows, you may find yourself tearing through books and reports like a hot knife through butter, soaking up knowledge as if there’s no tomorrow.

By leveraging techniques like silencing the inner voice, using visual aids, chunking, and employing speed reading tools, you can slowly but surely start to minimize the impact of subvocalization. Remember, it’s not about completely eliminating that inner voice. The goal is to strike a balance where you’re able to read faster without compromising on understanding and retention.

In your quest for speed reading prowess, don’t forget to foster a conducive environment for reading and make sure you are in the right mindset. A quiet space, good lighting, and a focused mind can do wonders for your reading speed.

The road to minimizing subvocalization is a marathon, not a sprint. So, don’t be disheartened by initial setbacks. Keep at it, be consistent, and you’ll start to notice a difference.

In the world of reading, it’s not just about the destination, but also the journey. So buckle up and enjoy the ride.

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