How to become a better Reader
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    How to become a better Reader How to become a better Reader Document Transcript

    • Becoming a better readerThe importance of readingReading is an extremely important skill. It is by reading that you learn much of what you need to knowfor your different school subjects. Reading is also an excellent way to improve your general English.You can only learn from reading, however, if what you read is not too difficult. For this reason, it isimportant to know what makes texts difficult and how you can improve your chances of understandingthem.What makes texts difficult to understandMost of your reading difficulties will be caused by a problem on the list below. Of course, when two ormore of these problems happen together, your chances of understanding will be even smaller.many unknown wordslong, complicated sentencesa topic you know nothing abouta topic you find boringfeeling tiredbeing distractedsmall print, long paragraphs, no picturesbad writingHow to understand more of what you readYou can do nothing about some of the reading difficulties: for example, you cannot change the print ina book or make poor writing better. But there are many things you can do that will give you a betterchance of understanding what you read. Here are some suggestions:Know your reading purpose - The way you read a book or a text depends very much on yourreasons for reading it. This is why it is so important to know your reading purpose. You should read aquestion in your math exam differently from an entry in an encyclopaedia which you are looking atquickly to find out the date of an event. The kind of reading you do in class or for your homework isdifferent from how you read a novel for pleasure in the summer vacation.A common mistake of students is to read everything very slowly and carefully, looking up everyTeaching Notes : Reading 1
    • unknown word. Occasionally this is necessary - for example, when reading exam questions. But ittakes a long time, and it can even make understanding more difficult. Often it is better to use one of thefollowing quick reading methods:Skimming - this is reading a text quickly to find out what information it contains. You should skimwhen, for example, you want to check if a text has the information you need to answer some questionsor write a project.Scanning - this is reading quickly to find a specific piece of information. You should scan when, forexample, you are looking for the answer to a question which you know is in the text.If you know your reading purpose - perhaps by looking first at the questions you must answer afterreading - you can choose the best reading method.Get background information - Find something out about the topic you have to read.The more background information you have, the easier it will be to understand the text. You can getthis background information background in your own language. For example, if you are studying theItalian Renaissance, you could read an encyclopaedia or textbook in your own language to find out themost important details about this historical period. Your parents may also be able to give you usefulbackground information. Talk to them in your language.You can sometimes get background information from the text itself. Many writers include a conclusionor summary; if you read this first, it may give you a good start.Use all the information in the book - Good textbooks are well-organised, with titles, sub-titles, introductions, summaries or conclusions. Many books also have pictures with captions. Look atall these first before starting to read.Another aspect of good writing is that each paragraph has a topic sentence. A topic sentence is asentence, usually the first one in a paragraph, that contains the main idea of the paragraph. If youconcentrate on understanding the topic sentence, this may help you to understand what comes next.Increase your vocabulary - Of course, reading itself is an excellent way to improve yourvocabulary, but there are many other things you can do. The better your vocabulary, the easier you willfind your reading.Use your dictionary sensibly - It’s not a good idea to look up every new word you find. If youTeaching Notes : Reading 2
    • do, it will take you a long time to read the text. This can be very boring, and usually will not help youto a better understanding. (Click for advice on how and when to use your dictionary.)Learn the important words that organise text - When you read texts in your science orhistory books, you will find that most good writers organise their writing with cohesion markers. Theseare words that connect different parts of the writing and help writers organise their ideas. If you learnthe important cohesion markers, you will find it easier to understand the text.Here are some important cohesion markers: also, therefore, except, unless, however, instead,(al)though, nevertheless, on the other hand, as a result, despite, in conclusion.Choose the right place to read - You can’t really expect to understand a difficult book if youare trying to read in the same room with the television on and your little brother distracting you. Thesame goes for reading in the bus on the way to school. You also can’t expect to read a textbook andlisten to music at the same time. Try to find a quiet and comfortable place with good light, and yourdictionaries and other materials nearby.Choose the right time to read - If you have a difficult text to read for homework, it’s probablybest to do this first. If you leave it until last when you are tired, you will find it even more difficult.Important: If you have tried the advice above and you still cannot understand a text, then it is simplytoo hard for you. Stop reading and ask someone to help you (your teacher, for example!). Nobody likesto give up, but you will just be wasting your time if you continue to work at a text that is beyond you.What to readMost of the time you have to read what your teachers tell you to read. But as you know, reading is anexcellent way to improve your English, and so you should try to do some extra reading each week.Here is some advice on how to choose what to read:Try not to read something too difficult - There should be no more than about 6-10 new words per page;reading for pleasure should not be hard work!Reading easy books is good for you -You will improve your reading skills even if you readsimple books, as long as you read lots of them. (But you may find you dont really enjoy stories writtenin English that has been over-simplified.)Try to read some non-fiction - Reading non-fiction books or magazines will help you learnTeaching Notes : Reading 3
    • some of the words you need to do well in your subject classes.Choose something that is interesting to you - This is clear. In fact, if you are reallyinterested in a topic, you will probably be able to understand texts that would normally be too difficultfor you.Teaching Notes : Reading 4
    • Reading comprehensionThis section on reading comprehension deals with the following subjects:1.Skimming and scanning2.Non-verbal signals3.Structure of texts4.Structure of paragraphs5.Punctuation6.Authors viewpoint (inference)7.Reader anticipation: determining the meaning of words8.Summarizing1. Skimming and scanningBefore starting to read a text in detail, the reader should take a moment to preview the text. Readquickly, without pausing to study the details. This is called skim reading or skimming. The readershould understand:for which audience the text was written (general public, professionals, laymen,…)what type of text it is (report, informal letter, formal letter, article, advertisement, …)what the purpose of the author is (to describe, to inform, to explain, to instruct, to persuade)the general contents of the textAfter having skimmed the text, the reader can study the text in more detail, reading more slowly andcarefully and looking for specific information that he is interested in. This is called scanning.2. Non-verbal signalsTeaching Notes : Reading 5
    • The meaning of a text is not only conveyed by means of words. All texts also contain non-verbal signs.This can be the use of certain style features, such as different fonts, bold print, underlining, or italics.The meaning of these style features can be different in different text. In one text italics may be used toemphasize a word, in another text italics can indicate can be used to make subtitles.Layout features are also non-verbal signals. For example:heading:a title printed at the top of a page to indicate the subject matter that is going to be discussed in aparticular chapter, column or section.title:tells you what the text is about.subheading:presents you with a brief summary, an introduction or explanation.photographs:pictures related to an article or a text.captions:comments on pictures related to a textdivision into paragraphs:each paragraph is a unity and deals with one particular idea.figures, graphs, bar charts, etc:to visualize facts and figures presented in the text.3. The structure of the textMost texts start with a title and sometimes a subtitle. After that, the introduction and the body followedby a conclusion or summary.An important aspect of reading is prediction. The better the reader can predict what he or she is goingto read, the faster and more effective he or she will read. The prediction process begins with the title.The introduction mostly informs the reader about what he can expect.The body consists of paragraphs. Each paragraph deals with one aspect of the subject matter.Paragraphs are linked in a logical way.Teaching Notes : Reading 6
    • The conclusion puts the subject matter in the right perspective4. The structure of paragraphsA paragraph is a group of sentences. The number of sentences and words in a paragraph depends on thesubject, but on average, paragraphs contain between 75 and 150 words. Each paragraph deals with oneaspect of the subject of the text. So, it is usually possible to give each paragraph its own subtitle, whichsummarizes the contents of the paragraph in one sentence.A typical paragraph consists of three parts. The first sentence contains the topic sentence, which is theheart of the paragraph. The topic sentence (also called thesis sentence or key sentence) contains thenew aspect of the subject of the text. The second part of the paragraph contains sentences whichdevelop the aspect. These sentences may contain arguments, explanations, details, examples, and othersupporting evidence. The last sentence of a paragraph is often a summary of the paragraph or a linkingsentence to the next paragraph.In many well written texts the reader will get a good impression of the contents by reading just the firstsentences (= the topic sentences) of each paragraph.Paragraphs are linked in a logical way by link words. These link words are also used within aparagraph.Exercise: ParagraphsRead the following paragraph and indicate:the topic sentencelink words linking sentenceslink words linking paragraphsThere is the first problem with tipping: the more discretion you have in the matter the more unpleasantit is. Tipping is an aristocratic conceit - "There you go, my good man, buy your starving family a loaf"-best left to an aristocratic age. The practicing democrat would rather be told what he owes right upfront. Offensively, rich people may delight in peeling off hundred-dollar bills and tossing them out togroveling servants. But no sane, well-adjusted human being cares to sit around and evaluate theperformance of some beleaguered coffee vendor.Teaching Notes : Reading 7
    • 5. PunctuationPunctuation is partly based on grammar. For example, commas are often used to separate clauses. If thereader understands the meaning and usage of punctuation marks, it will be easier to understand thegrammatical structures.Punctuation marks also indicate how the author wants the reader to interpret a piece of text. Forexample, if the author puts something in brackets, the part of the sentence should be interpreted as anaddition to the sentence.6. The author’s viewpoint (inference)In reading a text the reader makes inferences or assumptions about the position of the author. Is theauthor neutral or does the author show his own opinion. The author often shows his opinion either byadding certain phrases or by adding a value to a word.The author can add words like luckily, unfortunately to show that he is pleased or not pleased withsomething. He can also add words which show his surprise, regret or other emotions, for examplesurprisingly, to shock, unexpectedly, regrettably, pity, desirable, to be disappointed, etc. The author mayalso use words to indicate the level of certainty, for example: certain, obviously, undoubtedly, naturally,always, often, likely, probably, maybe, unlikely, hardly, rarely, never, etc. Another possibility is that theauthor adds words to comment on more or less objective facts. For example Only 40% of the staff isfemale has quite a different meaning than As much as 40% of the staff is female.The author can also reveal his viewpoint by adding value to a word. For example, if something is bighe may use the word huge or gigantic to indicate he is impressed. If something is small he may usewords like tiny or microscopic to indicate that he is not impressed. If someone is afraid he may use theword terrified to add suspense, if something is good he may use the word fantastic.Exercise: author’s viewpointRead the following paragraph and write down which word indicates the author’s opinion. Also explainwhat his opinion is.Teaching Notes : Reading 8
    • There is the first problem with tipping: the more discretion you have in the matter the more unpleasantit is. Tipping is an aristocratic conceit - "There you go, my good man, buy your starving family a loaf"-best left to an aristocratic age. The practicing democrat would rather be told what he owes right upfront. Offensively, rich people may delight in peeling off hundred-dollar bills and tossing them out togroveling servants. But no sane, well-adjusted human being cares to sit around and evaluate theperformance of some beleaguered coffee vendor.7. reader anticipation: determining meaning of wordsEven readers who have a wide and flexible vocabulary will encounter words of which they do notknow the meaning. Very often there is not enough time to look up all those words in a dictionary. Thismeans that readers should be able to guess the meaning of the word. This is often possible if the readerunderstands the relationships between words in meaning and form.To make a good guess at the meaning of the word, the reader must look for clues, indications, that helphim find that meaning. The following steps may help to disclose the meaning of unknown words:step 1determine the word class, i.e. a verb, a noun, an adjective, an adverb, etc.step 2determine its function in the sentence, i.e. how is it related to other words in the sentence?step 3contextual clues, i.e. is the context in which we find this word positive or negative; what does thecontext tell us about the word?step 4is there any relation between this word and a word that is familiar to you? Consider the word "aging" in"the population is aging rapidly". We recognise the word "age" in "aging" and therefore we can easilyderive its meaning.step 5try and derive the eventual meaning of the wordExercise: determining the meaningRead the following paragraph and try to find out what the meaning is ofTeaching Notes : Reading 9
    • conceitgrovelingFollow the 5 steps above and do not use a dictionaryThere is the first problem with tipping: the more discretion you have in the matter the more unpleasantit is. Tipping is an aristocratic conceit - "There you go, my good man, buy your starving family a loaf"-best left to an aristocratic age. The practicing democrat would rather be told what he owes right upfront. Offensively, rich people may delight in peeling off hundred-dollar bills and tossing them out togroveling servants. But no sane, well-adjusted human being cares to sit around and evaluate theperformance of some beleaguered coffee vendor.8. SummarizingIt is very difficult to remember the complete contents of long texts. For that reason it is often advisableto make notes of information in the text that is essential for the reader. The result is a short outline ofthe text containing all aspects of the text. The length of the summary largely depends on the density ofthe text. The average length of a good summary is about one-third of the original text, but summariesof texts which contain many facts may be longer.The following steps can be taken when summarizing a text.Step 1: Familiarize with the material.After you have read the text or a section of it, you can start summarizing. The length of the section readthrough depends on the structure and the complexity of the text. With reports it is often a good idea toread one section and then summarize. Newspaper articles are often best read as a whole before startingwith the summary.Step 2: Select important informationYou should go through each paragraph, sentence by sentence, asking yourself which information isabsolutely essential to the argument. You should write down complete sentences as much as possible.This way it is avoided that information is written down in an unclear manner, forcing you to read again.An alternative is to underline or highlight important sentences or phrases.The main difficulty at this stage is to determine what is important and what is not. Some general rules:Important: author, title, reason why the text was written, purpose, theme, key words, link words, allTeaching Notes : Reading 10
    • major aspects (especially topic sentence of each paragraph), explanations, author’s opinion Lessimportant: introduction, summary, repetition, examples, anecdotes, analogiesStep 3: Paraphrase the informationWrite down the information of the previous step in your own words. Writing down information in yourown words forces you to completely understand what you are writing down. You should try tocondense long and complex sentences into much shorter ones. So, your sentences should preferably beshort and to the point. Use active sentences as much as possible and avoid adjuncts.Be careful with regard to the wording of your sentences. Avoid descriptions if they can be summarizedin one word. So, do not write down The state exclusively controls and possesses the trade in stamps butuse the word monopoly.Step 4: Insert links between sentences and paragraphsMake sure that the connection between sentences is clear and logical and that each group of sentencessmoothly fit in one paragraph. This can be done by inserting link words such as therefore, nevertheless,but, however, because, on the other hand, etc. Sentences can also be linked by relative pronouns, forexample: who, which, whose, that. Using the correct links means that your summary becomes morelogical and coherent.Step 5: Adjust the length of the summaryIf you have to make a summary as part of an assignment and you are assigned a maximum number ofwords, count the words and leave out information that is not essential or add important information.Teaching Notes : Reading 11
    • READING COMPREHENSIONMAIN IDEAS: TOPICS1. WHAT IS A MAIN IDEA?, where you will learn what you need to know about a main idea.2. GENERAL VERSUS SPECIFIC IDEAS, where you will learn the difference between general andspecific ideas. There will be practice exercises to help you with this concept.3. WHAT IS A TOPIC?, where you will learn to identify the topic of a paragraph. Practice will beprovided with this concept.4. PRACTICE EXERCISES AND ANSWERS provide 3 exercises on different levels of difficulty,followed by the correct answers.5. REVIEW lets you see if you have remembered what you should for this lesson.1.WHAT IS A MAIN IDEA?The main idea is the central point of a paragraph. Very often, the main idea appears in one sentence --ageneral sentence called the topic sentence.The rest of the paragraph contains sentences made up of specific ideas and details that support andexplain the main idea. 2. GENERAL VERSUS SPECIFIC IDEASThe main idea in a paragraph is a general idea. In contrast, the supporting information in a paragraph ismade up of specific ideas and details. To improve your skill at finding main ideas, you need to practicedistinguishing between general and specific ideas.First, try it on the three groups of words below. Each group of words has one general idea and threespecific ideas. The general idea includes all the specific ideas. See if you can identify the general wordin each group. Then read the Answers and Explanations that follow:1. jealousy hatred emotion worryTeaching Notes : Reading 12
    • 2. spiders cockroaches mosquitoes insects3. chemistry science physics biologyAnswers and Explanations1. The general idea is "emotions" because it includes all of the others as examples.2. The general idea is "insects" because it includes all of the others as examples.3. The general idea is "science" because it includes all of the others as examples.3. TOPICSA paragraphs topic is the subject of the paragraph -- who or what the paragraph is about. Finding thetopic of a paragraph is the first step in finding out what the paragraph is trying to say to you. Thissimple question will help you find the topic of a paragraph. In general, who or what is this paragraphabout?Your answer to this question will be the paragraphs topic. Your answer must not be too broad nor toonarrow.Read the paragraph below. As you do so, ask yourself "In general, who or what is this paragraphabout?" After you have chosen what you think is the topic, read the Explanation that follows:Each year, thousands of people are bitten by snakes. Here is what to do if you are a victim of asnakebite. First, keep still and warm. Next, remove rings and tight clothing. Wrap a bandage above thebite. Do not apply a tourniquet, as this may cut blood circulation. Also, do not try to remove snakevenom. Finally, seek medical attention as soon as possible.The topic of this paragraph is:(a) snakebites(b) things to do after a snakebite(c) keeping still after a snakebiteTeaching Notes : Reading 13
    • ExplanationThe first choice, "snakebites" is too general. It is true that the paragraph is about snakebites, but it isonly talking about one aspect of snakebites.The second choice, "things to do after a snakebite" is the right answer -- this is what the paragraph isabout.The third choice, "keeping still after a snakebite," is too specific -- it is only one of the things youshould do after being bit.Now, read the next paragraph and look at the choices for the topic. One is too general, one is just right,and one is too specific. Think about which is which, then read the Explanation that follows.The cost of printing money and then destroying old ones has become too expensive for the government.As a result, serious efforts are being taken to replace the dollar bill with a dollar coin. The dollar coinwill last far longer than a dollar bill. It could also be used in vending machines easier than a dollarbill. And it will help cities, too. Cities spend a lot of time counting bills placed in collection boxes. Adollar coin would change that.The topic of this paragraph is:a. Using a dollar coin in a vending machineb. Reasons for a dollar coinc. A dollar coinExplanationThe first choice, "using a dollar coin in a vending machine," is too specific. It does not tell what theparagraph is about.The second choice, "reasons for a dollar coin," is the right answer -- this is what the paragraph is about.Most of the sentences present reasons that a dollar coin is better than a dollar bill.The third choice, "A dollar coin," is too general. The right topic will tell you what the paragraph islikely to say about a dollar coin.Teaching Notes : Reading 14
    • Topics: ExerciseThere are five paragraphs below. After each paragraph are two questions about the topic of theparagraph. Read the paragraphs and answer the questions. The correct answers and explanation followthe five paragraphs.A. A national contest to find the worst boss in the nation had some remarkable candidates. One personnominated a boss who had a sign on his desk saying "people are animals." Another named a boss wholiked to choke and bite his employees. And the winner was a boss who would not let his employees goto a funeral unless they produced a death notice that was printed in the local paper.1. As a topic of this paragraph, "A national contest" is a. too general b. just right c. too specific2. As a topic of this paragraph, "A contest to find the worst boss in the nation" is a. too general b. just right c. too specificB. Hot tubs have become popular places to relax and relieve muscle tension. However, if you use a hottub, you should be careful. Dipping your body in hot water makes your heart beat faster. This can be aproblem for people with high blood pressure. The hot water also raises your body temperature. Thiscan cause a loss of important body fluids. And five to ten minutes in a hot tub burns off blood sugar.This can be harmful for people with diabetes.3. As a topic of this paragraph, "Cautions for using a hot tub" is a. too general b. just right c. too specific4. As a topic of this paragraph, "What five to ten minutes in a hot tub can do" is a. too general b. just right c. too specificC. The highest military honor in the land is to be named as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Onlya few military men have held this post. The first Chair an was General Omar Bradley, who wasnominated by President Harry Truman. Other Chairs have included General Maxwell Taylor, AdmiralWilliam Crowe, and General Colin Powell, who became famous for his handling of the Gulf War.5. As a topic of this paragraph, "General Colin Powell" isTeaching Notes : Reading 15
    • a. too general b. just right c. too specific6. As a topic of this paragraph, "Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff" is a. too general b. just right c. too specificD. There are currently 5.5 billion people living in the world today. Population is expected to growrapidly in coming years. By the year 2000, this figure is expected to grow to 6.3 billion. Twenty fiveyears later, it is estimated that over 8 billion people will inhabit the planet. And in sixty years,population will be over 10 billion.7. As a topic of this paragraph, "Population" is a. too general b. just right c. too specific8. As a topic of this paragraph, "The number of people in the world today" is a. too general b. just right c. too specificE. People who dont brush their teeth regularly usually have bad breath. There are other causes of badbreath. A throat infection is one source of bad breath. A sinus problem can also cause bad breath. Eventoo much coffee or alcohol can cause bad breath. And a stomach problem resulting in acid buildup canbe a contributor, as well.9. As a topic of this paragraph, "Bad breath" is a. too general b. just right c. too specific10. As a topic of this paragraph, "Causes of bad breath" is a. too general b. just right c. too specificAnswers and ExplanationA. 1. a 2. b (The paragraph gives examples of bad bosses who have been nominated in a contest to findthe worst boss in the nation. "A national contest" is too general, since the paragraph is talking aboutone particular contest.)B. 3. b 4. c (The paragraph lists cautions for people who use a hot tub. "What five to ten minutes in ahot tub can do" is too specific because it is one of the cautions.)C. 5. c 6. b (This paragraph identifies people who have been Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."General Colin Powell" is too specific because he is only one of the people who were Chairmen.)Teaching Notes : Reading 16
    • D. 7. a 8. c (If you ask yourself the question "Who or what is this paragraph about?", your answershould be "Population growth in years to come." Thus, "Population" is too general, and "The number ofpeople in the world today" is too specific, since it says nothing about the future.)E. 9. a 10. b (This paragraph gives the causes of bad breath. "Bad breath" is too general because it doesnot focus on the actual subject that is discussed.)Teaching Notes : Reading 17
    • 5. REVIEW: MAIN IDEAS: TOPICSTo review what you have learned in this tutorial, answer each of the following questions. Then checkyour answers below.1. True or False : In a paragraph, supporting details are always more specific than the main idea.2. When the main idea is stated in one sentence of a paragraph, that sentence is called the a. topic b. topic sentence c. central point3. To find the main idea of a paragraph, you should first look for the a. topic b. topic sentence c. supporting details4. The question to ask when looking for a paragraphs topic is: a. What details support the main idea? b. What meaning is the author trying to get across? c. In general, who or what is the paragraph about?5. The topic of a paragraph should be a. neither too general nor too specific. b. explained at the beginning of the paragraph. c. explained by all of the sentences in a paragraph.1. True2. b3. a4. c5. aTeaching Notes : Reading 18
    • MAIN IDEAS: TOPIC SENTENCES1. WHAT IS A TOPIC SENTENCE? where you will learn what you need to know about a topicsentence.2. WHERE IS A TOPIC SENTENCE LOCATED? where you will learn the different parts of aparagraph where a topic sentence may be located, and how to find that sentence.3. PRACTICE EXERCISES AND ANSWERS provide 3 exercises on different levels of difficulty,followed by the correct answers.4. REVIEW lets you see if you have remembered what you should for this lesson and this importantskill.WHAT IS A TOPIC SENTENCE?A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main idea of a paragraph. It is a general statement thatcovers all or most of the material in the paragraph. Locating the topic sentence in a paragraph is one ofthe most important reading skills there is.To find a paragraphs topic sentence, you should do the following:1. Identify the topic of the paragraph by asking yourself Who or what is this paragraph about?"2. Find the sentence that is a general statement telling you what you need to know about the topic.WHERE IS A TOPIC SENTENCE LOCATED?A topic sentence may be anywhere within a paragraph: It can be the first sentence in the paragraph.When this occurs, the first sentence will be a general statement that will introduce a subject and willthen be followed by sentences that will support that statement in some important way.It can be in the middle of a paragraph. This will occur in two circumstances:Teaching Notes : Reading 19
    • 1. Sometimes, a paragraph begins with an introductory sentence that is meant to grab your attention.It may be a very general statement that looks like a topic sentence, but then is followed by a sentencethan changes direction.This sentence is the one that is explained in the rest of the paragraph, and it becomes the topic sentence.2. You will also find a topic sentence in the middle of a paragraph when the paragraph starts with aquestion. Question will never be a topic sentence. Look for the answer to the question - this will be thetopic sentence of the paragraph. Of course, if the answer to a question is "Yes," or "No," this will not beyour topic sentence.The explanation that follows this one-word answer will be the topic sentence. a topic sentence canappear at the end of a paragraph, either as a summary or a conclusion.A summary will bring together all of the points made in the paragraph. A conclusion is where all of thepoints lead up to a final, important point.3. PRACTICE EXERCISES AND ANSWERSThe following exercises will help you master the concept of "Locations of Main Ideas." There are threeexercises, increasing in difficulty.Topic Sentences: Exercise 1In the following five paragraphs, the topic sentence is in different places. Read each paragraph anddecide which sentence is the topic sentence. Write the number or numbers of the topic sentence in thespace provided.The answers and explanation follow the exercise.A. (1)Do you know what to do if you are stung by a bee or a hornet? (2)There is a number of steps thatshould be followed if this happens to you. (3)The first thing to do is remove the stinger. (4)A stingercontains venom. (5)It will continue to release venom as long as it is contact with skin. (6)When thestinger is removed, put ice on the wound. (7)This will reduce the swelling. (8)Then, apply a smallamount of baking soda. (9)It contains enzymes that will weaken the venom. (10)Finally, look for signsof an allergic reaction such as difficulty in breathing. (11)People have died from strong allergicreactions to stings. (12)When one occurs, the victim should be taken to the hospital for treatment.Teaching Notes : Reading 20
    • The topic sentence is # ____.B. (1)The worlds oldest known bound book is a prayer book. (2)The book is over 1,600 years old. (3)Itwas discovered in a childs grave in 1984. (4)The books nearly 500 hand-written pages were stucktogether. (5)Experts had to separate each page. (6)The book is now on display in the Coptic Museum inCairo, Egypt.The topic sentence is # _____.C. (1)Black ice is an invisible coating of ice that forms on an asphalt road surface. (2) Black ice is verydangerous. (3)It is caused by drizzle falling on the frozen pavement. (4)Drivers dont know the roadwayis icy. (5)When their cars hit the ice, they skid out of control. (6)Sometimes cars bounce off of eachother like characters in an arcade game. (7)Sometimes they skid off the roadway into ditches.(8)Incidences of black ice have caused numerous collisions and deaths in the colder regions of thecountry.The topic sentence is # _____.D. (1)Albert Einstein was one. (2)So was artist Pablo Picasso. (3)American writer and humorist MarkTwain was one, as well. (4)Others include Babe Ruth, General Norman Schwartzkopf, JohannSebastian Bach, and Joan of Arc. (5)What do all of these famous people have in common? (6)All ofthem are left-handed.The topic sentence is # _____.E. (1)A low fat diet may prevent major illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. (2)Because ofthis, doctors and nutritionists have suggested many ways for people to lower the fat in your diet. (3)They recommend using non-fat milk instead of whole milk. (4) Also, they suggest that people eat littleor no meat. (5)For people who eat meat, poultry is recommended. (6)It has less fat than beef or pork.(7) People should also cut down on the number of eggs they eat. (8)Eating non-fat yogurt for dessertinstead of ice cream is also recommended.The topic sentence is # _____.Teaching Notes : Reading 21
    • IMPLIED MAIN IDEAS1. WHAT IS AN "IMPLIED MAIN IDEA?" where you will learn how a main idea of a paragraph canbe implied or unstated.2. HOW TO CREATE AN IMPLIED MAIN IDEA will teach you what you should do when you find aparagraph that has no topic sentence.3. PRACTICE EXERCISES AND ANSWERS provide three exercises on different levels of difficulty,followed by correct answers.4. REVIEW lets you see if you remember what you should for this lesson.1. WHAT IS AN "IMPLIED MAIN IDEA?"When you read a paragraph, you must look for its main idea. Many paragraphs have topic sentencesthat express the main idea of the paragraph. Some paragraphs have no topic sentence. This does notmean that there is no main idea in the paragraph. When a paragraph has no topic sentence, thesupporting details suggest the main idea. The main idea is implied, or unstated, which means that youhave to figure it out by deciding what point the supporting details are making.Here is an example of a paragraph with an implied main idea. Read the paragraph and try to figure outthe main idea of the paragraph by piecing together the details of the paragraph. Then read theExplanation that follows.(1)Area codes are numerical codes assigned by the telephone company to tell which part of the countryyou are calling. (2)Area codes were first introduced in 1947. (3)At that time, there were 86 area codes.(4)Today there are over 150. (5)California, the most populous state in the country, has the most areacodes. (6)An area code can serve almost 800 three-digit prefixes. (7)Each prefix has almost 10,000possible telephone numbers.ExplanationEvery sentence in this paragraph is talking about "area codes," with each looking at a different aspectof area codes. The sentences are connected only by the fact that each deals with area codes. Thus, theTeaching Notes : Reading 22
    • implied main idea must reflect this fact. It might read: "There are various interesting facts about areacodes."HOW TO CREATE AN IMPLIED MAIN IDEAWhen you see that no sentence is general enough to include all of the others -- that each sentence is toospecific to cover all the others -- the paragraphs main idea is implied. Your task is to figure out theauthors main idea. You can do so by asking two questions:1. What is the topic, or subject, of the paragraph? In other words, who or what is the entire paragraphabout?2. What is the main point being made about the topic?To find the answer to the first question, you must see what subject is constantly being referred to.Once you have found the topic, ask yourself, "What is the authors main point about the topic?" In otherwords, "What is the author saying about the topic?" Your answer should not be too general nor toospecific. Try to make it broad enough to include all the supporting details in the paragraph, and makesure you state it in a complete sentence.Try it on the following paragraph. Read each sentence, then ask yourself what the topic of theparagraph is. Once you identify the topic, ask what the individual sentences are saying about the topic.Then read the Explanation that follows.(1)College and university sports teams have nicknames. (2)Most are common, such as the Bears,Lions, and Tigers. (3)However, some are unusual. (4)For instance, the University of California atIrvine is nicknamed "Anteaters." (5)The University of Washburns sports teams are called the"Ichabods." (6)Richland College sports teams are called "Thunderducks." (7)And perhaps thestrangest of all belongs to the University of California at Santa Cruz. (8)Their nickname is the"Banana Slugs."ExplanationWhat is the main idea of the paragraph? No one sentence expresses it. When this happens, you mustconsider the topic of the paragraph and then look at the details to try to piece together the "missingtopic sentence."This paragraph starts talking about college nicknames. But it does not focus on common nicknames.Teaching Notes : Reading 23
    • The signal word "however" at the beginning of Sentence 3 tells you that the paragraph is changingdirections, and will focus on "Unusual college nicknames." This is the topic of the paragraph.Sentences 4 - 8 are detail sentences that provide the following examples:1. The University of California at Irvine is nicknamed "Anteaters."2. The University of Washburns sports teams are called the "Ichabods."3. Richland College sports teams are called "Thunderducks."4. The University of California at Santa Cruz team nickname is the "Banana Slugs."Once you have identified the important details, ask yourself this question: "What point do all the detailsadd up to?" In the above paragraph, the details all add up to the main idea that "Some college sportsteams have unusual nicknames." This is the implied main idea of the paragraph.A Note about paragraphs that begin with a QuestionSometimes, a paragraph will begin with a question. The answer to that question is the main idea of theparagraph. Often, that idea is expressed as a sentence. Sometimes, however, it is not. When thishappens, you must formulate the answer to the question in your mind.The answer will be the "missing topic sentence," or the implied main idea of the paragraph.Here is an example. Read the paragraph, trying to answer the question that is asked in the first sentenceof the paragraph. Then read the Explanation that follows.(1)What happens to thoroughbred race horses when they are too old to race? (2) Essentially, there aretwo groups of "over-the-hill racer horses. (3)The first group are the unlucky ones. (4)They are sold toslaughter houses, where they become pet food or are killed and their meat becomes delicacies inEurope or Japan. (5)The second group are the lucky ones who find their way to an Equine RetirementFoundation ranch. (6)These ranches are run by people who love horses and who want to provide afinal resting place for horses that gave their all as they raced. (7)The people running the ranchesunderstand the stress and effort that each horse went through in training and in running races. (8)Theyreward the horses by letting them roam pastures, feeding them well, and letting them enjoy thecompanionship of other horses. (9)And the horses are cared for by people who love and understandthese gentle yet competitive animals.ExplanationTeaching Notes : Reading 24
    • This paragraph starts with a question. When looking for a paragraphs topic sentence, you shouldalways look for the answer to the question. In this paragraph, no one sentence answers the question.When this happens, you have to piece together the details to come up with the "missing topicsentence."First, look for the paragraphs topic. The topic of this paragraph is "What happens to thoroughbred racehorses when they are too old to race." The details of the paragraph should provide you with the answer-- they tell you that there are two categories of such horses. Identify them and you have come up withthe answer to the question. A good implied main idea might be: "Thoroughbred race horses that are tooold to race are either sold for slaughter or enjoy life at an Equine Retirement Foundation ranch."Teaching Notes : Reading 25
    • 3. PRACTICE EXERCISES AND ANSWERSThe following exercises should help you to master the concept of "Implied Main Ideas." The threeexercises increase in difficulty.Implied Main Ideas: Exercise 1DIRECTIONS: There are five paragraphs below. Read each paragraph and then choose what you thinkis the implied main idea. When you are finished, read the Answers and Explanations that follow.1. The biggest living thing in America is a tree. So is the oldest living thing. Both are found inCalifornia. The oldest living tree is a bristlecone pine tree. Nicknamed "Methuselah," it is 4,700 yearsold. "General Sherman" is the largest tree. It is a giant sequoia, standing 385 feet in height. It weighsover 1,400 tons, more than the combined weight of 360 elephants.The implied main idea of this paragraph is:a. In America, things that are old and large have nicknames.b. The biggest and oldest living things in the world are in America.c. Trees are both the biggest and oldest living things in America.d. General Sherman probably named the largest tree in America.2. Each year, Fortune magazine lists the worlds largest corporations. Of the top 500 companies, 157call the United Stateshome. Five of the ten largest companies are from the United States. GeneralElectric is ranked eighth. IBM is sixth. Ford is ranked fourth. Exxon is third. At the top of the list isGeneral Motors.The implied main idea of this paragraph is:a. The United States has a significant number of the worlds largest corporations.b. More large corporations call the United States home than any other country.c. The number of corporations calling the United States home is on the decline.d. General Motors is always at the top of Fortune magazines list of the largest corporations in theworld.Teaching Notes : Reading 26
    • 3. Is there any one day of you year you dread? For some people, it is their birthday. After all, abirthday is a reminder that we are getting older. Others are anxious as April 15 approaches. This is theday that federal taxes are due. For others, the most feared day is Friday the 13th. On this day, weddingchapels are usually shut down. Toy stores sell out ouija boards. Travel is down, especially onairplanes. And people have been known to stay in their house the entire day rather than risk anythinghappening to them.The implied main idea of this paragraph is:a. The most feared day of the year is Friday the 13th.b. Different people fear different days of the year.c. Everyone dreads the date their birthday falls on.d. Someone whose birthday falls on Friday the 13th is in real trouble.4. Hummingbirds are the worlds smallest birds. The Bee hummingbird of Cuba is only 2 inches long.This is just a little bigger than a penny. Hummingbirds live only in the western hemisphere. Mostmigrate north in the early spring and return south in early fall. Their life span is between nine andtwelve years. The colorful birds are very curious. They are also aggressive toward each other. Perhapstheir best known trait is their ability to fly backwards. They are the only bird in the world that can dothis.The implied main idea of this paragraph is:a. There are no hummingbirds in the eastern hemisphere.b. There are a number of interesting facts about the hummingbird.c. Hummingbirds are migratory birds that are curious, aggressive, and can fly backwards.d. Hummingbirds are the most fascinating birds in the world.5. Local pizza parlors are found in most neighborhoods throughout the country. Because costs are lowand their products are popular, most are money-making operations. Estimates are that local pizzaparlors and small chains take in well over a billion dollars each year. Nationwide, three chains take ineven more money. Little Caesars takes in over 2.2 billion dollars in sales. Dominos takes in $2.4billion. And the leader of the pack is Pizza Hut. Yearly, they take in $4.5 billion, accounting for 28% ofall pizza sales in the country.The implied main idea of this paragraph is:a. No pizza chain will ever make as much money as Pizza Hut.b. If you want to get wealthy, you should own a pizza parlor.Teaching Notes : Reading 27
    • c. Everyone in the Unites States loves pizza.d. Pizza is big business in the United States.ANSWERS AND EXPLANATION1. c (There are three major details that have to be pieced together to come up with the implied mainidea. First, the paragraph is centered in America. Second, it is talking about the oldest living thing.Third, it is talking about the largest thing. The only choice that brings these elements together is "c:Trees are both the biggest and oldest living things in America.")2. a (The topic of the paragraph is "The worlds largest corporations." The point being made about thetopic is that a lot of them are located in the U.S. Thus, the implied main idea is "a. The United Stateshas a significant number of the worlds largest corporations.")3. b (The paragraph begins with a question. Answer the question and you have come up with theimplied main idea. The answer is "b. Different people fear different days of the year.")4. b (Each sentence in the paragraph focuses on a specific fact about hummingbirds. The implied mainidea must reflect this.The only choice that does this is "b. There are a number of interesting facts about the hummingbird." Ifyou were tempted to answer "d. Hummingbirds are the most fascinating birds in the world," rememberthat your implied main idea cannot be too general. The statement may be true, but it is not made in theparagraph.)5. d (The paragraph is talking about local and national pizza establishments. Its focus is on the moneythat is generated by pizza establishments. The only clear choice to connect these ideas is "d. Pizza isbig business in the United States.")Teaching Notes : Reading 28
    • Implied Main Ideas: Exercise 2DIRECTIONS: There are five paragraphs below. Read each paragraph and then write in you think isthe implied main idea. Each implied main idea is started for you. When you are finished, read theAnswers and Explanations that follow.1. Scientists who work with domestic turkeys are concerned. A new disease has been identified that isresponsible for the deaths of sick and healthy turkeys. The disease is called "round heart syndrome." Itexpands the hearts of turkeys to four times normal size. This causes the turkey to die of cardiac arrest.It is not unusual for healthy turkeys to die, as well. When they see a turkey that has died, some turkeysbecome so panicked that they go into convulsions. This often leads to their dying of a heart attack, too."Scientists are worried about_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________."2. Orthodontists usually straighten the teeth of children. Lately, they have found a growing clientelewith adults. The major reason for this is that different kinds of braces are now available. Many adultsdo not like the "tin grin" that goes along with metal braces. They now have two choices not availablebefore. One is clear braces. Made of plastic, they are much less obvious than metal braces. The secondchoice is lingual braces. These are attached to the back of the teeth, so they are out of sight. Thus,business people need no longer feel self-conscious about wearing braces."Because different kind of braces are available, _________________________________________________________________________________________________________."3. Spring showers can result in hazardous road conditions. The National Safety Council has puttogether a list of suggestions for drivers. First, make sure your windshield wipers and tires are in goodshape. Check the depth of the grooves in your tires by putting a penny into the grooves. If the top ofAbraham Lincolns head appears, you need new tires. The oil on the roadway mixes with water,causing slippery roads. Leave more distance between you and the car in front of you. Cars need asmuch as ten times more space to stop on wet roads. Next, dont drive through large puddles. TheTeaching Notes : Reading 29
    • splashing water could affect your brakes and your vision. Above all, drive defensively in the rain. Bealert for any hazard, including other drivers who are not being cautious."The National Safety Council has suggestions for ________________________________________________________________________________________________________."4. Until recently, scientists thought the first humans to reach North America migrated from Asia about11,500 years ago. The first inhabitants were thought to have walked across a land bridge that is now abody of water called the Bering Strait. New evidence from archeological digs shows that the scientistsmay have been wrong. Digs from the past two decades have turned up artifacts from much earlier. Adig in a cave in New Mexico turned up steel tools, a human palm print in clay, and a spear imbeddedin a bone. A scientific procedure that dates artifacts shows that these are about 30,000 years old. Otherdigs have turned up evidence that man may have been here even longer, perhaps as early as 45,000years ago."Scientists who thought the first humans to reach North America migrated from Asia about 11,500years ago now believethat ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________."5. Insurance companies are in business to make money. Some companies feel that it is safe to insurejust about anything. For instance, Bruce Springsteens voice is insured for $5.5 million. ActorChristopher Reeve was insured for $20 million during the filming of "Superman." A radio station inMemphis, Tennessee, offered a prize of $1 million to anyone who found Elvis Presley alive. Aninsurance company guaranteed the prize. And Chicagos Second City comedy troupe took out aninsurance policy should any member of the audience die laughing."Insurance companies have written __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________."ANSWERS AND EXPLANATIONTeaching Notes : Reading 30
    • 1. Possibilities: "Scientists are worried about the health of domestic turkeys."; "Scientists are worriedabout a new disease that is responsible for the deaths of sick and healthy turkeys. (Since this sentence isalready started for you, you simply have to figure out what scientists are worried about. Your answermust focus on turkeys, and on their health.)2. Possibilities: "Because different kinds of braces are available, orthodontists are straightening theteeth of more adults."; "Because different kinds of braces are available, more adults are having theirteeth straightened." (Your implied main idea must include the fact that adults are getting their teethstraightened more than ever."3. Possibilities: "The National Safety Council has suggestions for people who drive during springshowers."; "The National Safety Council has suggestions for driving when spring showers have causedhazardous road conditions." (Your implied main idea must be broad enough to include the notion of"spring showers;" it should not be so specific that any of the suggestions is listed.)4. Possibilities: "Scientists who thought the first humans to reach North America migrated from Asiaabout 11,500 years ago now believe that man may have been here long before that."; "Scientists whothought the first humans to reach North America migrated from Asia about 11,500 years ago nowbelieve that man may have been here 45,000 years ago."(Your implied topic sentence must include the notion that scientists now believe their earlier estimatewas wrong. It is not enough to just say this, however. You should go further by telling why they believethis.)5. Possibilities: "Insurance companies have written some unique insurance policies."; "Insurancecompanies have written some strange policies." (The examples in the paragraph are of policies writtenby insurance companies that are hard to believe. This must be reflected in your implied main idea;make sure that none of the examples are included in your sentence.)Teaching Notes : Reading 31
    • Implied Main Ideas: Exercise 3DIRECTIONS: There are five paragraphs below. Read each paragraph and then write what you think isthe implied main idea in the space provided. When you are finished, read the Answers andExplanations that follow.1. Kidney stones are calcium deposits that form in the kidney. These stones can be very painful andmay have to be removed surgically. Calcium deposits have been linked to low fluid intake. For manypeople, kidney stones can be prevented. Doctors and nutritionists recommend that people drink at leasteight glasses of non-alcoholic fluid per day. This should include drinking two glasses of fluids beforegoing to bed.____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________2. "BMI" is a formula for estimating the amount of body fat people have. BMI stands for "body massindex." The formula divides a persons weight by the square of the persons height. This gives a figurethat is designed to tell if a person is too skinny, about right, or too fat. While the formula may seemcomplicated, it is actually easy. It is becoming an accepted way to determine the amount of body fat aperson has.____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________3. Have you ever wonder how automobile models get their names? Some, such as "Edsel," are namedafter a person. Edsel Ford a son of the founder of Ford Motors. A second way is to remind people ofanother car. Fords "Windstar" replaced its popular "Aerostar." Ford wanted people to be reminded ofthe earlier minivan. A third way is to take a word from a foreign language. "Mondeo" means "world"Teaching Notes : Reading 32
    • in Italian. The Mondeo is a car that was designed in America and is built in the U.S. and Europe.Finally, some cars are named with words that mean nothing but suggest something. "Acura"sounds like the word accurate. It is meant to suggest that the car has been precisely engineered.____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________4. Large companies can afford to spend millions of dollars to build up a following. This is not the casefor small companies. Most small businesses depend on word of mouth to improve sales. This makes thecompany name especially important. It helps to have a name that people will remember. For instance,a successful California health spa that provides massages is called "Nice to be Kneaded." "You GottaHave Art" is the name of a successful graphics arts firm. And "The Pickup Artist" is a company thatdoing a booming business in recycling.____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________5. The term "killer bees," refers to a group of aggressive bees that escaped from an experiment inBrazil in 1957. They have migrated at a rate of 100-300 miles per year, and have arrived in the UnitedStates. There have been reports that killer bees are larger than the European honeybees we have grownaccustomed to in the United States. In truth, they are a little smaller. Some people who have been stunghave said that the killer bees have stung them repeatedly. They are incapable of stinging more thanonce, as they lose their stinger with the first sting. Some have claimed that the venom of the killer beeis stronger than other bees. Actually, it is the same strength as other honeybees. And some people haveclaimed that they were "hunted" by killer bees. They do not hunt. However, they are more easilyprovoked than other bees, and when they become agitated they sting in groups, often chasing theirvictim.____________________________________________________________________________Teaching Notes : Reading 33
    • ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ANSWERS AND EXPLANATION1. Kidney stones may be prevented by drinking a large amount of non-alcoholic fluids.(The key details that must be included in your implied main idea are "kidney stones," "prevention,"and "a large amount of non-alcoholic fluids." The above sentence combines all of these details in acomplete sentences.)2. An easy formula can be used to determine the amount of body fat people have.(This paragraph is about a formula known as "BMI." Your implied main idea must acknowledge this,and tell what the formula is designed to do. Naming the formula is not necessary, as this is done in theparagraph.)3. Automobile models get their names in different ways.(This paragraph begins with a question. The answer to the questions focus will be your implied mainidea. The focus is not whether you have wondered how automobiles get their name. This is just theauthors way of grabbing your attention.The focus is how automobile models get their names. Several examples of ways that automobiles gettheir names are given. You should not give each of these ways; rather, you should lump these examplestogether using a general phrase such as "different ways" or "various ways.")4. A company name that people will remember is important to the success of a small business.(The focus of this paragraph is on how small businesses can become successful. While there may bemany ways, the paragraph mentions only one: the importance of a good company name. These are theonly two details that should be incorporated into your implied main idea.)5. There are a lot of myths about "killer bees."(This paragraph is clearly about "killer bees." Your implied main idea must look at what is being saidabout killer bees. The ideas that are presented are all incorrect beliefs about killer bees.)Teaching Notes : Reading 34
    • 4. REVIEWTo review what youve learned in this tutorial, answer each of the following questions. Then check withthe answers thatfollow:1. TRUE OR FALSE? A paragraph without a topic sentence may have an implied main idea.2. TRUE OR FALSE? A paragraph without a topic sentence does not have supporting details.3. An implied main idea is also called a. a general idea b. an unstated main idea c. a non-essential idea4. To find an implied main idea of a paragraph, you should first look for the a. topic of the paragraph b. length of the paragraph c. topic sentence of the paragraph5. To find the implied main idea of a paragraph requires a. a dictionary b. some detective work c. topic sentences1. True2. False3. b4. a5. bTeaching Notes : Reading 35
    • VOCABULARY IN CONTEXT1. WHAT IS "VOCABULARY IN CONTEXT"? Where you will learn what this important concept isabout.2. USING CONTEXT CLUES shows you how this concept will help you with your reading.3. TYPES OF CONTEXT CLUES presents four common context clues and gives you practice witheach type of clue.4. PRACTICE EXERCISES AND ANSWERS provide 3 exercises on different levels of difficulty,followed by the correctanswers.5. REVIEW lets you see if you have remembered what you should for this important skill.1. WHAT IS "VOCABULARY IN CONTEXT"?Vocabulary in context means using clues found in the sentence or paragraph you are reading to figureout the meaning of a word you are not familiar with.Heres how it works.What would you say if someone asked you what the word culpable means?Just thinking of the meaning of the word might be difficult for you. But if you saw the word in asentence, you would bemore likely to know what it means. Here is the word emanate in a sentence.See if you can figure out its meaning.Read the sentence, choose its meaning, then read the Explanation.After the automobile accident, police must try to determine who is culpable. The party who is not toblame is not charged with any offense. Culpable means:Teaching Notes : Reading 36
    • a. believable b. hurt c. to blameExplanationCulpable means "to blame." Choices a and b may work in the first sentence, but the second sentenceeliminates them as possibilities. The phrase "the party who is not to blame" makes it clear that culpablemeans "to blame."2. USING CONTEXT CLUESIn order to determine what culpable meant, you used clues that were provided by the wordssurrounding the word culpable. These words are called "context."Knowing how to use the context surrounding difficult or unfamiliar words can help you figure out whatnew words mean.Context clues help you in three ways:1. Context clues will save you time when you are reading, since you wont have to stop and look upevery new word you read.2. Context clues will improve your understanding of what you read, since you will know the meaningof more of the words you are reading.3. Context clues will expand your vocabulary, because you will be learning the meanings of many newwords. When you see these words more than once, they will become a part of your reading vocabulary.3. TYPES OF CONTEXT CLUESHere are four common types of context clues:1. Examples2. Synonyms3. Antonyms4. General Sense of the Sentence or PassageHere is a look at each of these common clues.Teaching Notes : Reading 37
    • 1. ExamplesA difficult word may be followed by examples that will reveal what the word means.The examples often follow signal words such as for example, including, or instance, such as, or e.g.(which means "for example"). Here are three sentences that use examples as clues to help youdetermine the meaning of a word you may not be familiar with. See if you can come up with themeaning of the word that is in italics. Then read the Answers and Explanation that follows the threesentences.1. Adversities such as poverty, poor grades, and a weak family background can be overcome with hardeffort.Adversities are:a. obstacles b. pleasures c. obligations2. Pungent odors, including those from a lemon, garlic, and ammonia, can cause allergic reactions insome people.Pungent means:a. unusual b. strong c. mild3. Carla had a reputation for doing perilous activities. For instance, she loved to climb steep mountainswithout a safety rope, and she enjoys diving among sharks.Perilous means:a. fun-filled b. boring c. dangerousAnswers and ExplanationIn each sentence, the examples probably helped you to figure out the meanings of the words in italics:1. Poverty, poor grades, and a weak family background are all examples of OBSTACLES that can beovercome. The second choice, "pleasures," and the third choice, "obligations," do not work at all.2. The odor that comes from a lemon, garlic, and ammonia is STRONG. The first choice,"unusual," isnot correct because all three examples are of common items. The third choice, "mild," does not apply atall.3. The activities listed are DANGEROUS. The first choice, "fun-filled," does not work, because divingTeaching Notes : Reading 38
    • among sharks is not generally thought of as a pleasant thing to do. And neither activity could bethought of as "boring."2. SynonymsSynonyms are words that have similar meanings. For example, the words club, organization, andassociation are synonyms - they all mean about the same thing. Synonyms may be purposely providedby an author to help readers understand a word.Synonyms may be introduced in three ways:1. Often the synonym will be directly before or after an unfamiliar word, and it will be set of bycommas, dashes, or parentheses.Here is an example:After six years of drought, California had a copious -- abundant -- amount of rain in 1993.The word copious is explained in the sentence by the synonym ABUNDANT.2. Synonyms may be introduced by the words or and that isHere are examples:(a) Johnny had the audacity, or nerve, to tell me he could do anything better than I could.The terms audacity and "nerve" are synonyms. The word "or" coming between them signals this fact.(b) Brothers and sisters sometimes like to play innocuous, that is, harmless, pranks on each other.The terms innocuous and "harmless" are synonyms. The phrase "that is" coming between the two termssignals this.3. Synonyms may appear somewhere else in a sentence, or in an entirely different sentence, as arestatement of themeaning of an unknown word.Teaching Notes : Reading 39
    • Here is an example:A good detective tries to corroborate statements made by witnesses. Sometimes statements can beconfirmed byinterviewing witnesses separately.The terms corroborate and "confirm" are synonyms. The second sentence is a restatement of the firstsentence, and"confirm" is used in place of "corroborate."3. AntonymsAntonyms are words with opposite meanings.For example, summer is the opposite of winter; soft is the opposite of hard, and wet is the opposite ofdry.When authors use antonyms as context clues, the opposite meaning of an unknown word is provided.Antonyms are often signaled by words such as unlike, but, however, instead of, in contrast, and on theother hand.The examples below should help you to understand how this type of clue works. Each sentence has anantonym as a context clue. Read each sentence and see if you can come up with the right meaning forthe word in italics. Then read the Answers and Explanation that follows.1. Even though Sarah claimed she was not at the dance, Mikes videotape of her dancing with Fred wasirrefutable proof.Irrefutable means:a. definite b. unreliable c. published2. Instead of alleviating the situation, Marks explanation of why he was two hours late for his date onlymade things worse.alleviate means:a. make things worse b. keep things the same c. make things betterTeaching Notes : Reading 40
    • 3. After a twenty-mile hike, I assumed I would be ravenous, but I was so happy that the hike was overthat I couldnt eat a thing.Ravenous means:a. sad b. hungry c. crazyAnswers and ExplanationIf you looked for the antonyms of the words in italics, you should have come up with these answers:1. Irrefutable means "a. definite."A videotape of Sarah is reliable, so "b. unreliable" cannot be correct. And there is no reason to believethe videotape was released, so "c. published" could not be the correct response.2. Alleviate means "c. make things better."The sentence tells us that Marks explanation made things worse. The opposite of making things worseis making things better.3. Ravenous means "b. hungry."The signal word but tells you that the opposite meaning of ravenous will be in the next part of thesentence. When the sentence says that the author "couldnt eat a thing," you should have determined themeaning of ravenous.4 General Sense of the Sentence or PassageOften the context surrounding an unknown word contains no examples, synonyms, or antonyms.How, then, can you understand the word? You can use the general sense of the sentence or passage.Careful reading and your experiences with the situation being described will give you the meaning ofthe word.Here are three sentences that you will have to sense in order to get the meaning of the word in italics.Try to find its meaning, then read the Answers and Explanations that follows the three sentences.1. In general, people who achieve success despite obstacles such as handicaps, poverty or a poorupbringing are lauded by society.Lauded means to:Teaching Notes : Reading 41
    • a. not believed b. praised c. hated2. Residents of Malibu and other seaside resides have to buttress the foundations of their houses beforea big storm.Buttress means:a. strengthen b. remove c. purchase3. Because he was hit from behind, Ray was unable to identify his assailant.An assailant is:a. a priest b. a mother c. an attackerAnswers and ExplanationEach sentence provides context clues that become clear if you read carefully and think about thesituation being described.1. Lauded means "b. praised."Experience should tell you that this is what is done for people who become successful despiteobstacles.2. Buttress means "a. strengthen."Even if you dont live in a seaside community, watching the news or reading about accounts in thenewspaper should help you to know this.3. An assailant is "c. an attacker."Someone who hits you from behind must be an attacker.Teaching Notes : Reading 42
    • 4. PRACTICE EXERCISES AND ANSWERSVocabulary in Context: Exercise1For each sentence below, do two things. First, using context clues for help, choose the letter of the bestmeaning for each word in italics. Then, choose which type of context clue was provided by thesentence. When you finish, check your answers in the section that follows the exercise.1. When John ran out of gas, a friendly motorist stopped and let him siphon, or draw off, a gallon ofgas from his car.Siphon means to:a. stick to b. draw off c. stealThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense2. When Coach Day was hit with a barrage of complaints, including his lack of leadership, his inabilityto win, and the fact that he showed up late for practice all the time, he decided it was time to quit.A barrage is:a. a limited number b. a warning of a threat c. a large numberThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense3. The cockroach is found just about everywhere on earth because it can adapt to almost anyenvironment.Adapt to means to:a. move to b. adjust to c. rejectThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general senseTeaching Notes : Reading 43
    • 4. You constantly renege on your promises, but I have been taught to live up to my word at all times.Renege means to:a. go back on b. live up to c. speak freelyThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense5. Military ordnance including guns, tanks, missiles, and bombs, is expensive and becomes obsoletequickly.Ordnance is:a. reserves b. employees c. weaponsThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense6. A respite such as a half-time at a football game and the time between innings in baseball is commonin sporting events.A respite is:a. a rest period b. a busy time c. an unplanned breakThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense7. The aperture, or opening, in a camera lens met be set precisely for a good shot.An aperture is:a. a camera b. an opening c. a good shotThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense8. Only Alaska and Hawaii are not part of the 48 contiguous states in the U.S.Contiguous means:a. original b. connecting c. pollutedTeaching Notes : Reading 44
    • The Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general senseAnswers1. Meaning: b Technique: b2. Meaning: c Technique: a3. Meaning: b Technique: d4. Meaning: a Technique: c5. Meaning: c Technique: a6. Meaning: a Technique: a7. Meaning: b Technique: b8. Meaning: b Technique: dTeaching Notes : Reading 45
    • Vocabulary in Context: Exercise2For each sentence below, do two things. First, using context clues for help, choose the letter of the bestmeaning for each word in italics. Then, choose which type of context clue was provided by thesentence. When you finish, check your answers in the section that follows the exercise.1. A benign -- harmless -- tumor can still cause pain and discomfort.Benign means:a. harmful b. harmless c. smallThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense2. The Academy of Esteemed Scientists announced that they were going to honor Dr. Horace Block forhis work at their annual meeting in June, and that Dr. Block would appear and speak to the group.When Doctor Block died in May, the Academy decided they could still honor him posthumously.Posthumously means:a. after a persons death b. before a person dies c. carefullyThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense3. Good students know that you dont have to copy a lecture verbatim in order to get the generalmeaning intended by the professor.Verbatim means:a. in part b. alone c. word for wordThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense4. Mays dog "Skipper" was acting listless at home, so May brought the dog to the vet, where he wasstill unresponsive.Teaching Notes : Reading 46
    • Listless means:a. not responsive b. sore c. sickThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense5. When you are asked to explain yourself, a concise explanation is usually preferable to a lengthy one.Concise means:a. lengthy b. short c. dullThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense6.Although I felt my argument was tenable, everyone else in my study group thought it was notdefensible at all.Tenable means: a. colorless b. liked by everyone c. able to be defendedThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is: a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense7. Luis does not make a lot of money, but he believes in donating what he can to charity. Thus, he givesa nominal amount of his salary to charity each year.Nominal means a. large b. small c. normalThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is: a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general senseAnswers1. Meaning: b Technique: b2. Meaning: a Technique: dTeaching Notes : Reading 47
    • 3. Meaning: c Technique: d4. Meaning: a Technique: b5. Meaning: b Technique: c6. Meaning: c Technique: c7. Meaning: b Technique: dTeaching Notes : Reading 48
    • Vocabulary in Context: Exercise 3For each sentence below, do two things. First, using context clues for help, choose the letter of the bestmeaning for each word in italics. Then, choose which type of context clue was provided by thesentence. When you finish, check your answers in the section that follows the exercise.1. Colonel Harlan Sanders failed at several enterprises before he began to make and sell fried chickenat the age of 65.An enterprise isa. an assignment b. a marriage c. a businessThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense2. Amnesty International is an organization that lists countries that commit heinous crimes against theresidents and visitors of the country.Heinous meansa. proper b. inhuman c. mercifulThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense3. Some people are impervious to bee stings, while others are affected by them so severely that theyrequire hospitalization.Impervious to meansa. unaffected by b. concerned about c. severely bothered byThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense4. Prodigious actors such as Orson Welles, John Candy, and Jackie Gleason may have lived longerhad they lost weight.Teaching Notes : Reading 49
    • Prodigious meansa. heavy b. light c. eye-catchingThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense5. It is not unusual for people to vacillate when they try to buy a car. At one point, their minds are seton one car, but they hesitate when they see another.Vacillate means toa. purchase b. change your mind c. overreactThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense6. When Professor Heckberger found no discernable difference in the essays submitted by Alan andMike, she gave a failing grade to each.Discernible meansa. introductory b. unintentional c. noticeableThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense7. While salacious comments such as "Your team plays like old ladies;" "Whens the real team going toshow up?": and "My little sister plays better than your team" are common at sporting events betweenschools, they have been known to incite riots that have resulted in police actions.Salacious meansa. admirable b. humorous c. offensiveThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general sense8. Muscles that are not used will atrophy. To make them larger, workouts with weights are oftenrecommended.Atrophy means toTeaching Notes : Reading 50
    • a. become smaller b. become stronger c. fall offThe Vocabulary in Context Technique used is:a. example b. synonym c. antonym d. general senseAnswers1. Meaning: c Technique: d2. Meaning: b Technique: d3. Meaning: a Technique: c4. Meaning: a Technique: a5. Meaning: b Technique: d6. Meaning: c Technique: d7. Meaning: c Technique: a8. Meaning: a Technique: cTeaching Notes : Reading 51
    • 5. REVIEWTo review what you have learned in this tutorial, answer each of the following questions. Then checkyour answers in the Answers section that follows.1. The context of a word isa. its meaning b. its opposite meaning c. the words around it.2. This type of context clue helps readers figure out the meaning of a new word with signal words suchas however, but, and on the other hand.a. example b. synonym c. antonym3. This type of context clue helps readers figure out the meaning of a new word with signal words suchas for example, including, or instance, such as, or e.g.a. example b. synonym c. antonym4. In the sentence below, which type of context clue is used for the word in italics?a. example b. synonym c. antonymUrban, or city, problems, seem to be getting worse each year.5. In the sentence below, which type of context clue is used for the word in italics?a. example b. synonym c. antonymPeter can convey his feelings easily, but his brother Paul has trouble expressing what he feels.Answers1. c2. c3. a4. b5. cTeaching Notes : Reading 52
    • Other TechniquesScanning the detailsTo prepare for a career in engineering, a student must begin planning in high schools. Mathematicsand science should form the core curriculum. For example, in a school where sixteen credit hours arerequired for high school graduation, four should be in mathematics, one each in chemistry, biology,and physics. The remaining credits should include four in English and at least three in the humanitiesand social sciences. The average entering freshman in engineering should have achieved at least 1 2.5grade point average on a 4.0 scale in his or her high school. Although deficiencies can be correctedduring the first year, the student who needs additional work should expect to spend five instead of fouryears to complete a degree.1. What is the average grade for an entering freshman in engineering?2. When should a student begin planning for a career in engineering?3. How can a student correct deficiencies in preparation?4. How many credits should a student have in English?5. How many credits are required for a high school diploma?Teaching Notes : Reading 53
    • Making inferencesWhen an acid is dissolved in water, the acid molecule divides into two parts, a hydrogen ion andanother ion. An ion is an atom or a group of atoms which has an electric charge. The charge can beeither positive or negative. If hydrochloric acid is mixed with water, for example, it divides intohydrogen ions and chlorine ions.A strong acid ionizes to a great extent, but a weak acid does not ionize so much. The strength of anacid, therefore, depends on how much it ionizes, not on how many hydrogen ions are produced. It isinteresting that nitric acid and sulfuric acid become greatly ionized whereas boric acid and carbonicacid do not.1. What kind of acid is sulfuric acid?2. What kind of acid is boric acid?Answers:1.A strong acid ionizes to a great extent, and sulfuric acid becomes greatly ionized. Conclusion: Sulfuric acid is a strong acid.2. A weak acid does not ionize so much and boric acid does not ionize greatly. Conclusion: Boric acid is a weak acid.Teaching Notes : Reading 54
    • Identifying exceptionsAll music consists of two elements – expression and design. Expression is inexact and subjective, andmay be enjoyed in personal or instinctive way. Design, on the other hand is exact and must be analyzedobjectively in order to be understood and appreciated. The folk song, for example, has a definitemusical design which relies on simple repetition with a definite beginning and ending. A folk songgenerally consists of one stanza of music repeated for each stanza of verse.Because of their communal, and usually uncertain origin, folk songs are often popular verse set tomusic. They are not always recorded, and tend to be passed on in a kind of musical version of oralhistory. Each singer revives and perfects the song. In part as a consequence of this continuous revisionprocess, most folk songs are almost perfect in their construction and design. A particular singer’sinterpretation of the folk song may provide an interesting expression, but the simple design thatunderlies the song itself is stable and enduring.1. All of the following is true of a folk song excepta. There is a clear start and finish.b. The origin is often not known.c. The design may change in the interpretation.d. Simple repetition is characteristic of its design.Teaching Notes : Reading 55
    • Locating referencesThe National Road, also known as the Cumerland, was constructed in the early 1800s to providetransportation between the established commercial areas of the East and Northwest Territory. By 1818,the road had reached Wheeling, West Virginia, 130 miles from its point in Cumberland, Maryland. Thecost was a monumental thirteen thousand dollars per mile.Upon reaching the Ohio River, the National Road became one of the major trade routes to the westernstates and territories, providing Baltimore with a trade advantage over neighboring cities. In order tocompete, New York state authorized the construction of the Erie Canal, and Philadelphia initiated atransportation plan to link it with Pittsburgh. Towns along the rivers, canals, and the new NationalRoad became important trade centers.1.The word “its” in line 3 refers to _________________ .2. The word “it” in line 8 refers to _________________ .Teaching Notes : Reading 56