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Presentation on theme: "AN APPROACH TO COMPREHENSION"— Presentation transcript:

Comprehension is the decoding and understanding of spoken, written and visual texts. It is the power of the mind to take information in and to understand it fully. The skills one acquires is not only for use in the English classroom or the examination. They are skills that are needed for every subject across the curriculum. They are skills that one acquires for life.

2 Basic strategies for reading an unknown text
A. Previewing: Skim the passage to get an overview of the passage: Read the title – it gives us a hint of what the passage is about as well as the intention of the writer. The name of the author gives an idea of the era, style and the subject matter.

3 Look at whatever other clues the writer gives – subheadings, footnotes, where the text comes from, etc. Read through the passage - ask questions about the purpose and meaning of the text.

4 Questions one should ask
Who is the narrator and who is the audience? Where does the text come from? This will influence the subject matter and style of the text. What is the passage about? What is the author’s intention in writing this passage? This will influence the style of writing. Where and when does it take place? How does the author communicate the message – what language techniques (style, tone and register) are used?


6 Finding the main ideas in the passage:
Texts usually have an introduction, development and conclusion. You need to find the main ideas of the text by reading each paragraph carefully and deciding what the main ideas are. Each paragraph usually has one main idea. This will enable learners to develop an understanding of the passage.

7 Read through the questions
Next step: Learners read through the questions, as these will give clues about where to find the answers in the passage. It is important for learners to understand the questions on the text as much as they have to understand the comprehension text itself. If they don’t understand what the question requires them to do, they won’t be able to answer the questions.

8 Each question contains an instruction word
Each question contains an instruction word. Learners should identify these words and underline them. These words will tell learners exactly what has to be done in order to answer the question. Also underline key words or ideas in the question. These key words focus on the content of the text and will give learners an idea of where to find the answers in the passage.

9 Types of questions Types of questions likely to be asked are as follows: Literal/factual questions – ask the questions about what the passage is actually saying – the storyline (who, what, where and when?). The answers are always in the passage.

10 Inferential questions/reading between the lines.
Writers do not always state facts directly. They imply emotions and attitudes and suggest points of view, and they depend on the reader being perceptive enough to be able to form a total impression greater than the bare words on the page.

11 For instance, a writer may not state directly that he dislikes a particular character he is writing about, but the words he uses to describe that character and the situations he presents him in may convey the writer’s attitude towards that character, and that attitude is carried on to the perceptive reader. The words are not chosen accidentally but with a purpose, and learners must be able to get beyond the surface meaning of the words and see what the implications of such words are.

12 Inferential questions/reading between the lines
For example: The same soldiers could be called ‘terrorists’ or ‘freedom-fighters’, according to the writer’s attitude towards them; In describing someone eating, a writer may use the words ‘wolfed down’, ‘slobbered’, ‘guzzled’. If these words were applied to a baby eating, these words may be merely a statement of fact, but if they are about an adult, there may well be a suggestion of distaste towards the character.

13 Language usage questions
These include vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and figurative language. The answers usually need to be given in the context of the passage. Teaching learners to understand the difference between literal and figurative meanings of words would be helpful. Also familiarize learners with the more commonly used idiomatic expressions as these are used by many writers in their writing.

14 Style questions Teach learners to identify the style of the passage.
Just as people are individual and different, so the way people write varies. Is the style narrative, descriptive, formal, informal, simple, lofty, factual, humorous, satirical?

15 Learners may be asked to comment on the style of the passage and may have to justify the appropriateness or effectiveness of the style to the content. The kinds of points they would have to be aware of are the variety of sentences used, the diction (the kind of words chosen), particular language devices used, etc

16 Tone questions Tone is the manner in which the writer expresses herself. Tone conveys the emotions, underlying feelings and attitude of the writer. This is imparted through the choice of vocabulary, sentence length and type and punctuation. Tone may be angry, apologetic, gloomy, humorous, personal, impersonal, mocking, persuasive, sarcastic, etc.

17 When asked to describe the tone of any text, use one adjective.
Hint – what tone would the writer use if she were to read her work out aloud?

18 Summarising and paraphrasing
Learners may be asked to pick out certain facts in a passage relevant to a certain point. E.g. they may be asked ‘what do we learn about X’s physical appearance?’ and they will have to search through the passage to find all the details that the writer gives about this. Paraphrasing would require writing in one’s own words.

19 Opinions Learners are asked to comment on the views expressed in the passage or give their own views on the topic. Learners must be able to justify or substantiate their opinions.

20 Tips on answering comprehension exercises
1. Answer in full sentences Unless the question specifically asks for a one-word answer or a phrase, answers should be written in the form of a sentence. Sentences should not begin with conjunctions such as ‘because’, ‘and’ or ‘but’. Abbreviations or symbols such as ‘&’ for ‘and’ should be avoided. 2. Numbering should correspond with the numbering of the questions.

21 Tips on answering comprehension exercises
3. Use the mark allocation as a guide. 4. Answer questions in clear and simple language. Avoid using big words and long-winded ways of saying things as this wastes time and the examiner may have difficulty in understanding what has been said. 5. When quoting from the text, enclose the text with single inverted commas. Quote the relevant part of the passage in full. Do not use ellipsis.

22 Tips on answering comprehension exercises
6. If a question asks for a one-word answer, do not give two or three words. 7. Use your own words unless asked to quote. This shows that the passage has been understood. 8. Keep the tense of your answer the same as the tense of the question.

23 9. If you are providing a synonym or antonym for a word in the passage, it must be the same part of speech as the original word. For example, the synonym for ‘pretty’ is ‘beautiful’ (both are adjectives) not ‘beautifully’ (an adverb).

24 Tips on answering comprehension exercises
10. Proof-read to check whether questions have been answered correctly. Spelling and grammar errors result in an unnecessary loss of marks. 11. Write clearly and neatly.

25 Strategies to improve comprehension skills
Encourage learners to read more and to read with understanding. Encourage learners to practise their comprehension skills on a daily basis when listening to conversations, instructions or the radio; when watching television programmes or films; when reading books, newspapers or magazine articles.

26 Strategies to improve comprehension skills
Expose learners to different styles of writing and comprehension passages – gradually progress to more complex and challenging texts. Give exercises as frequently as possible Work through past exam questions and familiarize learners with questioning techniques

27 Strategies to improve comprehension skills
Get learners to set comprehension exercises of their own. They will immediately become aware of facts and possible questions. Get learners to identify types of questions and to explain how they would go about answering them. Focus on key instructional words used in exam papers.


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