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My native language is Serbian, but from my early age I started to learn English. And now, when I am a programmer I read almost all stuff in English (stuff for college, books, internet stuff, movies, etc.). I have no trouble reading ordinary stuff (news, blogs, etc.), but when I read some professional literature or some for example poetic novels I occasionally stumble upon words that I do not understand and that I have to look in the dictionary for the meaning of them (kindle helps here to not break reading flow to much).

After that introduction, my question is : is it worth and would it be functional to invest time to learn speed reading for reading stuff in English in my example, or should I first work to improve my English and vocabulary?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

In speed reading you are using the ability of your eyes to grab more than one word. It recognizes patterns. You can learn it in every language, as long as you are exercising reading in that language. Since you are reading a lot in english anyway, why not doing it? It will feel bumpy at first, but you gain a lot of speed and time afterwards. My native language is not english, and it does the trick :)

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I have done some internet test on reading speed and remembering, it used English text. I scored 240words/min (which I see is just as you would excpect from an average reader) with remembering of almost 100%. So from your answer where you say it works for you, and my test where I see my current speed is ok to start learning speed reading, I`ll give it a try. thanks. – Saša Šijak Oct 30 '11 at 17:01

I don't think there's any reason speed reading wouldn't work, but whether that's the most effective way to increase your reading speed right now depends on what the main problem is. If you spend a significant fraction of your time looking up words, it may be better to improve your English vocabulary first, since otherwise you'll still have to lose time looking up words even when speed-reading, and it'll break your reading rhythm as well.

Also a note on looking up words - when I was learning English (my native language is Polish), once the words I didn't know were rare enough that I could understand the general meaning of the text, I stopped looking them up and simply started learning from context. After encountering the same word several times I'd just know what it meant. I don't know if this would work for you, but it might, and it definitely makes reading much easier than constantly looking things up. (Might not work well for technical literature, of course.)

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