Spritz and Spreeder

I just learned about speed reading apps, specifically  Spritz and Spreeder. It only shows one words at a time, and each word is in the same spot on the screen. This allows us to speed through reading. Spritz’s website explains it much better than I can:

“Reading is inherently time consuming because your eyes have to move from word to word and line to line. Traditional reading also consumes huge amounts of physical space on a page or screen, which limits reading effectiveness on small displays. Scrolling, pinching, and resizing a reading area doesn’t fix the problem and only frustrates people. Now, with compact text streaming from Spritz, content can be streamed one word at a time, without forcing your eyes to spend time moving around the page. Spritz makes streaming your content easy and more comfortable, especially on small displays. Our “Redicle” technology enhances readability even more by using horizontal lines and hash marks to direct your eyes to the red letter in each word, so you can focus on the content that interests you. Best of all, Spritz’s patent-pending technology can integrate into photos, maps, videos, and websites to promote more effective communication.”

The average reading speed is about 220 words per minute. I’m a pretty quick reader, so I’d say my reading speed is somewhere around 300-350. Speed readers can help you read up to 600 words per minute! When I tried it, I was able to keep up at 600 and comprehend. I think I would need to practice though to read articles or whole books that quickly. I’d probably stick to about 500 wpm.

Another similar site is Spreeder. It’s a little more advanced than Spritz, because they are actually ready for you to copy and paste whatever you want to read on their site and choose your reading speed. And, it’s free!



I really want to try this. I could read journal articles for work a lot faster. I could read news articles online for fun at a quicker speed.

Have you ever used a speed reader before? What speed did you use?

I really want to show this to my ESL reading class and even my domestic students. Everyone could use a little boost in their reading speed, especially students, who are required to read so much!


And The Mountains Echoed


reading and traveling


I truly believe this about reading. It’s been about 1 year since I’ve had an overseas trip. I’m starting to get that itch. But, alas, work is standing in my way. So I’ve been escaping via books.

I just finished reading the book “And The Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini. This novel allowed me to visit Afghanistan, when I don’t think I’d normally ever go there. I learned more about the Afghan culture, just like I did with Hosseini’s previous books “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”.

The title of this novel struck me as being so beautifully poetic. I had that thought every time I opened the book. In the acknowledgments, the author mentioned that the title was inspired by a William Blake poem, so now I understand its poetry.

I really do relish going somewhere by reading. I’ve been to India several times, Italy, Mexico, Hawaii, and so many other amazing places I’ve yet to visit. Where have you traveled via a book? What book was it? I’d love some recommendations.

I’ll Take One Order of Mice Please!

For  the ESL courses at our school, we generally use textbooks that are specifically made for English language learners. However, there is one exception- our reading textbook, and it has proven to be hilarious on some days for us.

In reading class yesterday, we were doing an activity in which we needed to understand how topics are related so that we can better comprehend how paragraphs are organized. The activity asked us to mark out the word that does not belong in the group and then to say a very specific topic in which all the words could belong.

The words were cows, sheep, pigs, mice, goats, and chickens. The students should have marked out the word mice and the topic was “farm animals that are kept for meat.” My Chinese student thought this was a very poor question, because, in fact, some Chinese people do eat mice, especially in Guangzhou province. We probably laughed for ten minutes about this. So, all textbooks are not created equal. 😉 

International Literacy Day

September 8th  is International Literacy Day, and the month of September is  International Literacy Month.  Nearly 1/5 of adults in the world don’t know how to read or write. That’s about 775 million people that don’t posses these basic skills that are essential in being successful in today’s world. Sub-Saharan Africa and south and west Asia have the worst literacy rates- 50% of the people in these areas can not read or write.  Literacy affects one’s income, health, and even relationships. UNESCO says that “literacy skills are fundamental to informed decision-making, personal empowerment, active and passive participation in local and global social community.” Illiteracy can help  breed hate, violence, and ignorance.  Literacy can help reduce poverty and lead to further learning.  Have you ever thought of literacy as a right? The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights highlighted  the right to education.


Source: UN Human Development Report

While we typically think of the United States as a well-educated nation, in actuality, about 14 % of the population is illiterate.  The proceeding infographic says that 160 million people in rich countries struggle with literacy.

literacy around the world

Source: UNESCO

What are some causes of illiteracy? Fees for schooling prevent many from being literate. The need to work instead of attending school is an issue for many. Families and communities not seeing education as important can decrease literacy. Additionally, poverty is a huge factor in illiteracy. When you are worrying about having clothes to wear and food to eat, you aren’t as concerned about learning to read.

Why are more women than men illiterate? 2/3 of the illiterate are women. The cause for this is that women are not encouraged, as men are, to be educated in many parts of the world. In some countries, they are even discouraged. The education of women is often discouraged, because if women are educated, they may become a threat. Educated women may not stick to the traditional roles for women in their country.  Let’s get rid of this discrepancy!

What can we do to help solve the world’s literacy problem? The biggest thing that can be done is simply this: literacy and education must be promoted. It must be promoted by governments, by communities, and by families. All of these entities must stress the importance of being able to read and write. Do what you can this month to promote literacy.