LRC Week 3: 10 minutes/day, Looking for Hidden Time

If you haven’t already, check out the previous weeks’ posts about the Latin Reading Challenge.

"Molnija pocket watch" by The original uploader was Kallemax at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Molnija pocket watch” by The original uploader was Kallemax at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

How did you do last week? Hopefully you’re finding the reading easier as time goes on. Are you getting near the end of your selected text? (Consider starting over when you’ve finished – more on re-reading next week.)

Here’s a review of some of the strategies we’ve employed so far:

  • Pick a text that is sufficiently easy. It should be a step below what you consider your level.
  • Read at the same time every day. Take decision fatigue out of the equation.
  • Set a timer, stick with it. I often end my reading on a cliff-hanger, adding to my motivation to read the next day.
  • Hold yourself accountable. Make a note for each day you read.

This week’s assignment is the same as last week’s:

Read Latin for 10 minutes each day.

In addition, this week I want you to try…

Searching for Hidden Time

In the vast index of Techniques (TQs) in Where Are Your Keys?, there is a core principle called TQ: Billion Penny Millionaire

Essentially a rationale for using TQs. If you collect a billion pennies, you you’re still a millionaire even though you gathered wealth in very small increments. If you can shave seconds off of conversations about how to learn language and add seconds on to conversations in the language, then you can save hours, weeks, or even years on getting a community fluent in a language.

WAYK Technique Glossary

Let’s apply this idea of compounding small amounts to our reading practice.

I can remember the point in college when I made the transition from translation to reading (NB – in some cases people think that they are reading, when in fact they are speed translating). Like so many students, I was accustomed to approaching my “reading” very methodically. This usually involved large amounts of time, large amounts of space (with pages and notes spread across the table), and, not infrequently, large amounts of coffee at the 24-hour diner a few minutes off campus.

My approach, as well as my proficiency, changed when I started to take advantage of the small pieces of time between classes. Without access to lots of table space, my note-taking was limited to the glossed sections of my text and a single 3×5 index card which I used as a bookmark. Instead of deciphering the forms of each individual word, I started to focus on the broader meaning of what I was reading. I also gave myself permission to work on smaller sections of text, rather than trying to get through all of the assigned lines in one sitting – with a limited amount of time I had no choice. The end result was that my Latin work became less cumbersome, and less daunting. (It was a few years before I would attend my first spoken-Latin event, but some important groundwork was being laid.)

We often grant Latin tremendous weight, to the extent that something like reading becomes an imposing task. As a result, many of us put off what we know is good for us, because we just don’t have the time, energy, or ability to meet a particular text. However, as with anything, it is not large efforts that lead to success, as much as small efforts sustained over time. To go back to my push-ups analogy from last week, doing a few reps each day, in between more intense work-outs every other day, helps to develop strength over time.

Our lives are often filled with small, hidden pockets of time, which we can take advantage of, if we are prepared:

  • waiting in line at the grocery store / bank / etc.
  • waiting for kids / partner / friends to get ready
  • waiting for a meeting to start
  • lunch duty (this was always one of my favorite times to read)
  • sitting on the bus / subway

The obvious tool to use during these times is probably your phone. While many people may prefer to read from the printed page, you are more likely to have your phone with you when some unexpected time comes up. And, since these reading sessions are likely going to be limited to 5-minute increments, you’ll experience less fatigue from screen reading.

The Send to Kindle plugin allows you to send web-pages directly to your Kindle reader or smart phone. You can use this with texts from, for example, The Latin Library. Although it takes a little more work, a free program like Sigil can produce nicely formatted ebooks in the ePUB format. Just cut and paste text from an online source. I like Aldiko for reading ePUBs and PDFs on Android devices.

Of course, if none of these options appeal to you, you can just make sure to always have your Latin reading with you. There are certainly far less impressive ways to be seen in public, than casually reading Latin in the checkout line.

What are the small pockets of time that you can use to get in some extra reading? Share your answer on Twitter with #LatinReadingChallenge.

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