Speed not the only key to reading

Howard Berg, recognized as the world’s fastest reader, leads a few exercises during a recent presentation to the Pauls Valley Rotary Club. (PV Democrat photo)

Speed is a big deal, but understanding is just as important. That tip comes from the guy recognized as the world’s fastest reader, who recently made a quick stop in Pauls Valley.

Howard Berg says he’s developed cutting-edge accelerated learning techniques to turn information overload into a way to read fast and understand the material at a much higher rate.

Berg told a group of PV Rotary Club members and guests that relearning how to learn is the key.

That’s why he came up with programs meant to increase reading speed and provide a more effective way of comprehending the material read.

“I’m the world’s fastest reader,” Berg says, adding his more than 25,000 words read per minute led to him being listed for the reading distinction in the 1990 Guinness Book of World Records.

“I’ve read about 30,000 books. I read a lot. I don’t love reading, but I do love learning. I want to learn things and do these things now not later.”

Berg, who now lives in Texas, actually grew up in Brooklyn, New York. It was this sometimes dangerous environment as a student and later as a teacher where he began to understand the need to find a new way to learn.

“I grew up in a place that wasn’t so safe. I found one safe place – the library.”

There’s no hesitation from Berg when he makes the bold claim his programs can improve reading speed and comprehension almost immediately.

“I will increase your reading by 30 to 40 percent right away and improve comprehension,” he said. “They’ll read 100 percent faster in four hours. Everybody needs this.”

As evidence Berg says his own children have used his techniques to do some amazing things.

One example is one of his sons, who passed the bar exam at 19 years of age, while another is a daughter who was a first-year law student at 15.

He offered a number of others, such as one student who completed college in six months and learned the Chinese language in three weeks, along with a few celebrities he’s taught over the years.

“We did a blind study to see if it worked. Everybody in the study doubled, tripled, quadrupled their reading speed.

“This is exciting to me. That’s what I try to do – help people. I want to help kids. That’s what I really like to do. I want to help as many kids as I can. That’s what we’re supposed to do.”

With his programs sold on DVDs, Berg’s not quick to give away many of his secrets.

He does, however, say one simple thing provides a good start – using your finger as a guide while reading.

“Pick a book and go to chapter one and time yourself for the first minute,” he said.

“Then go to the second chapter and use your finger to go as fast as you can. Go back to the first chapter and use this technique.”

Although speed is important Berg stresses comprehending what you read is even more important.

“Reading fast doesn’t really do anything if you don’t understand what you’ve read. Find a way to slow down and how to learn comprehensive material and then speed up.

“It’s what makes the reading pop.”

He adds the programs also available online are meant to be shared with anyone as a learning tool.

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