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Reading speed is a reading skill which can make the act of reading more productive.The speed of reading varies with the experience and skill of the reader and the nature and purpose of the reading task.

File:Reading speed by age.jpg

Average reading rate in words per minute (wpm) depending on age and measured with different tests in English, French and German.

Note: the data from Taylor (English) and Landerl (German) are based on texts of increasing difficulty; other data were obtained when all age groups were reading the same text.

Rates of reading include reading for memorization (fewer than 100 words per minute [wpm]); reading for learning (100–200 wpm); reading for comprehension (200–400 wpm); and skimming (400–700 wpm). Reading for comprehension is the essence of the daily reading of most people. Skimming is for superficially processing large quantities of text at a low level of comprehension (below 50%).

Rates of reading speed of learner readers[]

Reading speeds for different tasks[]

  • Reading for memorization (under 100 words per minute (wpm)),
  • reading for learning (100–200 wpm),
  • reading for comprehension (200–400 wpm), [
  • [skimming (reading)|skimming]] (400–700 wpm), and
  • scanning (more than 700 wpm).

Specifically, normal reading involves the rates of "rauding" (or normal reading), skimming, and scanning which should be understood as having very different purposes and consequences. Reading for comprehension is the most important reading process because it is the essence of most people’s daily reading. Skimming and scanning are sometimes useful for processing larger quantities of text superficially at a much lower level of comprehension (below 50%).

Advice for the appropriate choice of reading rate includes: to read flexibly, to slow down when the concepts are closer together or when the material is unfamiliar, and to speed up when the material is familiar and the material is not concept rich. Speed reading courses and books often encourage the reader to continually speed up; comprehension tests lead the reader to believe their comprehension is constantly improving. However, competence in reading involves the understanding that skimming and scanning are dangerous as default habits.

The table to the left shows reading-rate varies with age [1], regardless of the period (1965 to 2005) and the language (English, French, German). The Taylor values probably are higher, for disregarding students who failed the comprehension test. The reading test by the french psychologist Pierre Lefavrais ("L'alouette", published in 1967) tested reading aloud, with a penalty for errors, and could, therefore, not be a rate greater than 150 wpm.

See also[]

References & Bibliography[]

  1. Im Auge des Lesers, foveale und periphere Wahrnehmung: vom Buchstabieren zur Lesefreude(2006), ppgs. 117.

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