Reading in 3s

This was mentioned to me by a student recently in a small group class that I am kind-of mentoring, and I think it’s worth adapting and sharing. The original idea, or at least where the student got it from, is Daniel Wallace, here. It’s the idea that you should translate each chapter of the New Testament three times, and rotate chapters in and out of rotation.

Now, I don’t really think you should be translating, I think you should be reading passages at a level you can comprehend with just a little bit of help. But I do think this idea has a lot of merit. Here’s how I’m implementing it in my own readings: the rule of 3s (see also Where Are Your Keys technique: Three Times)

So, say I’m reading a text, like Ørberg’s Roma Aeterna (which I happen to be. Everyone raves about the first book, Familia Romana, and for good reason, but the second book might be even more well-thought out than the first, for different reasons). I decide that reading 3 pages of text is enough for each reading session (i.e. each day or so), and so I read like this:

Day 1: Pages 1, 2, 3.

Day 2: Pages 2, 3, 4

Day 3: Pages 3, 4, 5 etc..

This is a really helpful reading strategy for comprehension and for repetition. After you “get-going” in a text, 2/3 of your reading will be re-reading. So you get a chance to tackle that material two extra times before leaving it behind. It should be easier those times, right? So you’re getting repetition, and slightly spaced repetition, but you shouldn’t be getting bored or overwhelmed, because you’re moving forward.

Also, your new material for the day is contextualised. You don’t have to pick it up and wonder where you were and what was going on. You create your own lead-in to the new section of material.

You can do this on a page level, or multiple pages, or sections, or however your text is divided and however you want to carve it up. Just remember that you’re probably better underestimating your ability to get through text, than being gung-ho ambitious at the start. You can always scale your reading up, but if you start with overly high expectations you may end up giving up rather than scaling down.

This is one approach I’m trying for extensive reading with a few texts I’ve got “on the slow burner” at the moment. Try it out and let me know how it goes for you.

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