Tips on suppressing subvocalization

Subvocalization is the inner voice we hear in our head while reading. Subvocalization reduces the reading speed to 250 wpm, so it is a bad habit. All the speedreaders initially struggle with subvocalization suppression. Finding what works best for you is an issue of personal style. Below are some common tips we shared in course discussions.


I’m finding extremely hard to avoid subvocalizing.

Whenever I’m trying to encode a saccade, I’m instinctively subvocalize the word I’m focusing.

Is there any other specific tip or suggestion/exercise we can leverage, to avoid subvocalization?


This is a common question of the previous discussions.

Jonathan A. Levi

Use the “Progressive Overload” methodology to gradually increase speed. At the beginning of each stage, comprehension should be slow, that’s normal. It will take quite a bit of time and practice before you are understanding the meaning without subvocalization… it will feel a little bit like trying to taste with your eyes. Be patient and stick with it – there’s a reason we call it the “Sound barrier” – it is a real barrier and you’ll feel like a supersonic jet when you finally break through it – but it will give you a lot of resistance!

Markers for nearly every word is a good idea, but not necessary. Markers for most important concepts you deem worth remembering is more appropriate. “Important” is a subjective term, but when you pre-read, you should be identifying what you want to learn or take away from the text. Often times, if there’s a paragraph that I know doesn’t have what I’m looking for, I will set only 1 marker. However, when I get to what I want, I set markers for every important concept. This skill comes from successful pre-reading, where I have a map of the text and know what I’m looking for.

Keep at it, don’t let frustration hold you back… remember the pain and suffering of someone who starts lifting weights for the first time – this is no different!

Dr. Lev Gold

There are several ways of subvocalization suppression.

The way Jonathan is addressing this is focusing on saccades: you move your eyes faster than the inner voice can read, so it just cannot read fast enough and you get your silence.

The way I learned was reading with distraction, like counting 21,22,23 repeatedly while reading. This shortcircuits audio input and you suppress subvocalization.

Another cool method is subvocalization of only one marker word per line/paragraph. This creates double encoding and focuses you. The idea is that you can read a paragraph [or at least a phrase] in the same time it takes you to pronounce a word.

There are other methods like

 I also want to note that I struggled with this same thing when I was learning. At some point I talked to Anna about it and she told me that it’s not uncommon for one word out of every 10-20 to still be subvocalized, especially for important words like names, cities, numbers. To date, I still “hear” certain keywords, particularly ones that I use for markers, in my mind.

As far as what Anna told me, very few people are able to 100% suppress subvocalization – perhaps we should have covered this a little bit more in the course. However, don’t worry – if you can reduce subvocalization by 70-80% (only hear one word per line or per 2 lines) you’ll be more than fast enough!!

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