Monday, April 4, 2011

Good reading skills - what is reading

C. Reading

The ability to read quickly and accurately is an essential skill.Reading slowly will not improve comprehension because we are interested not in the meanings of separate words but in the meaning of a whole passage or sentence. Accuracy is of great importance if you are studying a scientific document.

I. Interpreting what is read

The following is an extract from an interview given by Indian born American astronaut Kalpana Chawla just before taking off on her final mission. Read through it carefully but as quickly as you can and then try to answer the comprehension questions with as little reference as possible to the passage.

‘ “I was not born for one corner. The whole world is my native land.” So said Seneca, the philosopher. I have felt that connection and stewardship for Earth for as long as I can remember. And not just for Earth, but the whole universe. In summers, while growing up in India, we often slept in the courtyard under the stars. We gazed dreamily at the Milky Way, and once in a while caught some shooting stars. Times like those gave me the opportunity to wonder and ask all those very basic questions. That sense of awe for the heavens started there. The family and the surrounding community were mostly folks who had come to the area after Partition, most of them without many possessions. You couldn’t lose by working hard and everyone seemed to follow that rule. It helped instil the notion that no matter what the circumstances, you could indeed follow your dreams.

The central element of success, in one word – is perseverance.There have been other factors too, like reading and exploring, that have helped widen perspectives and enriched the journey.

My message for Indian children is that material interests are not the only guiding light. It is something you’d enjoy doing in the long run. Take time to figure out how to get there. The quickest way may not necessarily be the best. The journey matters as much as the goal. Listen to the sounds of nature. Wishing you the best on your trek towards your dreams. Take good care of our fragile planet.’

Task 1:Answer the questions by saying whether true (T) or false (F):

1. Kalpana Chawla believed that she was a citizen of the world. ( ___ )
2. She did not feel a sense of responsibility for the Earth and the universe. ( ___ )
3. During winter she slept in the courtyard under the stars. (___ )
4. Chawla’s fascination with space began when she was in the USA. ( ___ )
5. Chawla’s family & surrounding community were very rich people. ( ___ )
6. ‘You couldn’t lose by working hard’, was the rule followed by
the community Chawla belonged to. ( ___ )
7. Three things, according to Chawla, led to success –
perseverance, reading and exploring. ( ___ )
8. Material prosperity is of prime importance. ( ___ )
9. The quickest way is always the best. ( ___ )
10. For Chawla the goal was more important than the journey.
( ___ )
Task 2: Scan through the passage and find the words whose
synonyms are given below:
1. home land:
2. thinker:
3. managing:
4. open space:
5. galaxy:
6. meteor:
7. sense of amazement:
8. separation:
9. belongings:
10. determination:
11. point of view:
12. delicate:
Task 3: Read the passage carefully and answer the following
questions in one or two sentences:
1. Which lines tell you that Kalpana Chawla’s fascination for
space began at an early age?
2. What experience paved the way for a career in NASA?
3. Why was the concept of dreaming important to her?
4. What was the message she had for future generations?
5. What highlights her great sense of responsibility?
II. Increasing reading speed
You can improve your learning power very much by speeding
up your reading. It is equally important that you are able to
comprehend the meaning of what you are reading. You can lose
speed in your reading in three ways:
By reading one word at a time – You should read in groups
of words.
By going back over what you have read – Your eyes
should move steadily forward.
By moving your lips or tongue while you are reading –
Keep your lips closed and your tongue and head still.
Task 1: The following passage has 106 words in it; read it in
one minute making sure you are not just automatically
reading the words. Make sure you understand what you
are reading.
Shelly Mann loved to swim; it came naturally to her. But
breaking an Olympic Record was a distant dream, afflicted as she
was with severe polio at age 6. But then Shelly was mentally strong.
She took up swimming when she was 10 and by the time she was
12 she began competitive training in Washington, DC.
In the early 1950s she won the US National Championship.
And by sheer hard work and grit Shelly moved mountains, not just
muscle! She set a 1 minute 11 seconds Olympic record in the 100-
metres butterfly in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne at the
age of 17.
Now answer these questions without looking at the passage:
1. What came naturally to Shelly Mann?
2. What was a distant dream for her?
3. What was she afflicted with?
4. And at what age?
5. Where did she take up competitive training?
6. What record did Shelly set at the age of 17?
Task 2:
1. Write the most important sentence in the passage.
2. Write the least important sentence in the passage.
Task 3: Take a passage of about 250 words and read it rapidly
within 2 minutes. You could do the same with passages
of varying length and time your reading.
Task 4: (Note to the teacher: Find an interesting text, which you
think may appeal to most of your students such as a joke from a
magazine, a brochure about Disneyland, or anything that is
colourful and fun. Then, type that passage on a page using large
margins so that the text itself is not spread from one end to the
other but rather it is squeezed up into a thin column. Make enough
copies to go around and then grab a pair of scissors as you go to
class. Cut along a line so that the last one or two words at the end
of each line are cut off. Hand out the papers and ask the students
to read the text and try to find the missing word(s) for about five
minutes. You can tell them to work in pairs or groups and discuss
it. They will engage in a true communicative negotiation while
they are attempting to prove to the others that what they have
come up with as the answer is correct. After you let them work for
a while, you will hear the words they have found. You will be
amazed to find out how creative they may become when they shout
out words that are not the originals but are quite correct as

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