I have a lot to say about this topic, but I’ll save most of it for another post. Today, I just want to point out that the experience of reading on a laptop can be enjoyable and beneficial in multiple ways. It’s efficient and comfortable to kick your feet up, set the laptop in your lap, and read. And, yes, I think you can even read a digital text “deeply.”
This post is a part of a series highlighting various ways of reading. The point of the series is that we shouldn’t get so worked up about the how of reading scripture in its original langauge. Just read; that’s all that matters. You can check out the other posts here.
One could argue that when reading on a laptop you don’t get all the benefits related to holding a physical book in your hand — the touch and feel of the page, the constant location of the words, and all the ways this impacts memory and engagement of the mind and imagination. I agree; there are unique benefits to physical books. But I think that you can make a digital text much more tangible and mentally engaging by simply reading/mumbling the language out loud.
I assume that when we read scripture in its original langauges at least part of the goal is to acquire Hebrew/Greek/Latin as a langauge we can easily read and understand, maybe even produce. When it comes to acquiring a new langauge the only thing that matters is (1) encountering the language (2) in ways you understand (3) over and over and over. I find that reading on a laptop is a good way to check all three boxes.
Today, I’m reading in Accordance, and Accordance helps make the text understandable with hover-over glosses and cross-highlighting, making it easy to re-read a chapter multiple times in Hebrew, Greek, and/or Latin before moving on. Furthermore, I don’t have to fret about not having so-and-so text in a diglot edition with my favorite translation because I can setup my reading space however I like it. No worries about not having a reader’s edition of my favorite Bible because a quick mouse over provides a gloss and a triple-click opens a full lexicon.
I’ve spent years reading the Bible in its original languages “the hard way” with print texts and print lexicons, taking hand-written lexical notes, but I find digital reading much more beneficial when I use it to read and re-read more of the languages I want to acquire.
I teach a middle school Introduction to World Language class, and that three-part statement above is the central thesis of the whole course. I think it bears repeating: To learn a langauge you must encounter the language in ways you understand over and over and over. That’s all there is to it. I wish I had been convinced of this fifteen years ago, but we live and learn.
Reading on a laptop is a joy, but you read however you like to read. Just read.