Since I started my very own speed reading course I have been interested in getting some practical stuff for daily use. Although, the speed reading book I got from the library provides me with very good instructions and training plans, I still feel the need for software, tools and little helpers to make this learning process more versatile.
One of the most known programs is 7 Speed Reading (visit product website or read review). This paid course for Mac/PC effectively combines exercises to train reading speed and comprehension . If interested I recommend to read this round-up about speed reading software to compare it with other paid programs.
There are also free apps and tools available and I’m going to overview seven popular applications in this post. The software I’m going to suggest are freeware and relate to techniques such as reading word groups, taking notes and recalling. Enjoy!
7 free speed reading tools at a glance
- ZapReader for online speed reading
- Spreeder for online fast reading
- QuickReader (iOS) for eBook speed reading
- FreeMind for drawing mind maps
- Evernote for clipping everything about speed reading
- Eye-HopTM to learn word group reading offline
- Hopify Program for converting text into word group columns
1. Spreeder is a free video app to teach yourself word group reading online or to enjoy written web content in video style. The link goes straight to the app, where you can past your own content. Click ‘Spreed’ and the video will be loaded. Before you start you can set words per minute and how many words you wish to practise.
2. ZapReader is a free web based application and is similar to Spreeder. It lets you read any electronic content via a player at a much faster speed. However, it is also used to learn speed reading and particularly word group reading. You can grab any text you are interested in and past it into the player’s text box. You will need to set ‘words per time’ before starting the ZapReader, but you can adjust your reading speed while watching. The video below is a quick tutorial.
3. Eye-HopTM by Alchemy Training Unlimited. Learn to read word groups offline and on print outs. Ron Cole, author of ‘How to be a super reader’ teaches speed reading classes and one major part is to learn reading whole groups of words instead of reading word by word. This reading technique is fundamental and taught by many instructors as well as online apps such as Zap Reader or Spreeder. If you prefer to learn offline and with printed material on hand you will simply love Eye-HopTM .
There are four PDFs ready to download having instructions at the end of each PDF. I started with two words at a time for about a week and since then kept moving up the ladder. You can do this at your very own pace. As soon as you undestand faster than your finger actually can point at each word group just proceed to the next level. You may want to read this post about it for more instructions.
4. Hopify Program by Reto Stamm. Create word groups for offline use. The stories in those PDFs from the Eye-Hop Programm relate to motivation and self help. There are many useful tips to keep on mind while learning speed reading. However, if you don’t like it at all, copy any of your texts and past it into the text box of the Hopify Program Website. Then choose how many words per hop you would like to practise and press the button. The converter will now turn your own stories into columns of 2, 3, 4 or 5 words. Print option is available.
5. FreeMind for drawing mind maps. FreeMind is open source software and a desktop based mind mapping programme. I often use it to embody new knowledge or draw new ideas as well as concepts. I have put together a basic style mind map introducing all main steps linked to fast reading (used source: Ron Cole) to see what I mean. Mind Mapping is a popular technique to brainstorm ideas, create small data or knowledge bases or organise new projects. The technique goes back to Tony Buzan and is actually an offline method using pen and paper. Some basic rules may still apply, but those are easy to learn and will finally refine your very own speed reading style.
6. Evernote for taking notes. You certainly have heard about this online tool. Evernote is suitable to keep track of all the articles, ideas, images, techniques or tips you may come along while learning to speed read. There’s a Firefox add-on allowing to clip any marked content such as this article here and send it straight into your Evernote notebook. It is available for free and accessible via the web, but also on the iPhone and iPad as well as on Android or Black Berry devices. There are desktop solutions for Windows and Mac Os X offering to create private notebooks that won’t be synchronised online.
7. QuickReader for iPhone, iPod, iPad. If you look for a more convenient way to read interesting stuff and practise speed reading at the same time, QuickReader may be an option to try. QuickReader is an eBook reader with fast reading support, touch-free reading and is optimised for iOS devices. Set words per minute and stops per line to practise word group reading. Less stops mean more words are grouped together per line, hence, more stops are easier for starters. The text will be highlighted and all you have to do is to lean back and take the information in one single go.
8. QuickReader Lite (iTunes link) is free, giving you access to thousands of eBooks to download to your iPhone or iPad. The current update offers column reading in form of a 1-column book display, a 2-column magazine format, or a 3 or 4 column newspaper layout.