Speed does not equal sucess

Recently, as I've been working with students on reading, I noticed something interesting. Students tend to want to read the material quickly, whether or not the word is being read correctly.This presents in two different ways that I have noticed so far: If it is a new word, the letters and syllables might get read out of order. If it is a root word, verb or noun, they are already familiar with, the prefixes or suffixes may be read incorrectly.

This made me wonder where the drive for speed was coming from. Was it a desire to sound natural? Was it the students' way of getting through the daunting task as quickly as possible? Whatever the reason, it was not helping the students become better readers or spellers. Spellers?! How does that apply to reading, you may ask? My answer is this: For visual learners, reading is a big part of spelling. When they see words, repeatedly, they can recall the images later on when they are trying to spell them. Therefore, when students are rushing through passages or word lists, with a fair amount of inaccuracy, they are not taking clear "mind pictures" of those words. Keeping a moderate pace will hopefully help to improve reading accuracy, and their ability to recall spelling.

No matter the reason students have for rushing from word to word, slowing down is the best way to read. Encourage language learners to take their time and sound words out. Remind them they are not in a race! (This is not to say they should read as sluggishly as possible, either!) The goal of reading is not to finish as quickly or delayed as possible, but to read with as much accuracy as possible!

And lastly, do encourage reading! Reading is a fantastic way to broaden vocabulary and expand one's language and cultural repertoire!

*Hint* When choosing a book to read for yourself, or helping another English Language Learner to choose a book, consider the following: Is the book on the appropriate language level? Does the topic interest or relate to the reader? Both of these factors will contribute to the success or failure of a student's reading progress. If the level is too high or too low, they will feel frustrated or bored, respectively. While all subjects are encouraged for students to explore, if a student is more resistant to reading than others, try finding a book on a topic about which they are highly interested or passionate. Hope this information is useful!

Happy Reading!


"There is more to life than making it go faster" - M Ghandi
Thanks for sharing that quote, Bruce! Quite apropos!

I tutor mostly math and science students but can confirm and add that speeding through word problems is a great source of misunderstanding and error in problem solving.  Often you hear what you say, not what was written.


Katelyn M.

English, ESL or Beginning Mandarin Tutor

20+ hours
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