Today I was listening to a recording of John chapters 19, 20, and 21 being read aloud in Spanish. I have read these chapters many times over the years in Spanish -- countless times in English. Knowing the content ahead of time helps me catch important words as I listen so I can follow the story.
After listening to these three chapters, I reread John 19, in Spanish, using the same translation as the one that was being read (Nueva Version Internacional). An unexpected disjunction occurred: Reading the words seemed slow and laborious compared to listening to the words read aloud. Although I received more meaning from reading because I filled in places where I had missed spoken words, the act of reading felt burdensome.
This experience must be similar to what my international students experience. Now I see why it is so important for me to read aloud and explain the content in the readings. I also see why I must seek out stories and articles that don't require so much explanation.
Many essays, like Mark Twain's, provide not just thoughts and insights, but delightful word play. Unfortunately, word play is hard (at best) to translate. It requires so much explanation that it is no longer delightful. Giving up such readings is hard, but if I don't seek appropriate readings, my international students will have to struggle too much to decipher each reading. The value of the reading will be lost to the sense of burden, and writing about the content will be a cue to feel like one is in a losing wrestling match.