Addressing 7 Common Reading Deficiencies: Effective Remedies

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Common Reading Deficiencies

Identifying and addressing common reading deficiencies is essential for improving one’s reading skills. There are seven prevalent issues that readers often encounter, such as difficulty with comprehension, slow reading speed, lack of focus, limited vocabulary, poor retention, pronunciation challenges, and subvocalization.

7 common reading deficiencies and their remedies

Before we discuss some reading deficiencies and their remedies, it will be unwise if we do not get to know about the reading process.

What actually happens when we read? Here is the observation of an expert in this respect.

The reading process

Suppose you do this experiment with a friend.  Get hold of a book with a large page size and lines that go right across the page. Get your friend to hold the book up and to read it with the top of the book just below his eye level. This means that you can watch the movement of his eyes as he reads the page. If you do this you will see that your friend’s eyes do not make a continuous forward sweep. Instead, they progress by little “jumps”, moving then stopping, as they progress along the line. This kind of jumping movement is called saccadic movement.

There has to be this starting and stopping movement because the eye can see only when it is still i.e motionless. Every time the eye pauses, it sees a phrase or even a sentence, then jumps to the next part of the line, and so on.

There is another interesting fact about eye movement. If you record the eye movement of someone who is reading, you will notice that, from time to time, the reader goes back and looks again at something he has read before. In other words, he regresses to an earlier part of the text. Probably because he realizes he is not understanding the passage properly. Then he comes back to where he left off and continues reading.

Our eyes make two basic movements when we are reading: the saccadic movements during which our eyes stop and focus at different points on the line and move forward (little forward jumps); and the regressive movements during which the eyes jump backwards on a line of print to re-look at words or phrases that have already been passed. The second kind of movement is sometimes regarded as a fault but it may be necessary depending on the kind of reading.

7 common reading deficiencies and their remedies

Now that we know the eye movement involved in reading, what are the bad reading habits that one should guard against? The following bad reading habits have been identified.

  1. Head movement

This is when a reader moves his head from side to side while reading; such movement can slow down reading speed. Since the only muscles that are necessary for reading are the eye muscles. Other movements i.e the head, could be regarded as wasting time and energy.

  1. Pointing to words

Following the line with your finger or with a pen, a ruler etc is another bad habit which can slow you down. This is because when you begin to point individual words, you may not be able to take in a whole phrase or sentence.

  1. Vocalization

This is when you begin to say the words of what you are reading to yourself or when you move your lips. Such reading habits don’t only slow down your reading speed but it also affects the rate of comprehension.

  1. Sub-vocalization

The reader, in this case, does not actually move his/her vocal organs but says the word to him/her self mentally. It is more difficult to break this habit than its antecedent because sub-vocalization is not easily noticed by the teacher. The reader has to catch this himself.

One of the ways of checking this is to invite the student/reader to place the thumb and middle finger of the same hand lightly on the sides of the larynx (Adam’s apple). In this way, any slight lip movement can cause the buzzing of the larynx that often accompanies sub-vocalization.

  1. Regression

As we observed earlier, regression refers to the backward movements of the eyes in order to re-read words, phrases and sentences that have already been passed. It is a necessary activity I efficient reading depending on the reading purpose involved, how difficult the language of the text is, the degree of familiarity with the text and so on. However, the regression that results from a lack of concentration is bad. Frequent regression slows down reading and when a reader’s eyes make many short forward and backward jumps, reading becomes not only slow but muddled.


  1. Recognition span

This refers to the number of words that the student can recognize each time his eyes pause or are fixed at a point. Small recognition span is evidence of poor reading. This can also result from pointing i.e word-for-word reading. In each case, reading rate and comprehension are affected. The ideal is to have a wider span of recognition so as to take in several words per fixation.

  1. Eye movements

This refers to the way the eyes move across the line of print during reading. An efficient reader moves his eyes across and down a page in a steady sweeping movement making as few regressions as are absolutely necessary for understanding. Whereas a poor reader moves his eyes across a line of print in a haphazard manner. This fault can only be overcome through regular correction practice over a period of time.


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