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speed reading > articles

Simply speed reading exercise

Read the title. What do you already know about the topic?

In note form write down pieces of information you expect to find in the text.

In this step you are expected to activate the knowledge you already have about the text's topic area. To do so helps you

  • To review your choice of this specific text for your specific reading purpose (cf. O. Pre-Reading)
  • To focus your attention and expectations in a certain direction which narrows the content-range of your decoding decisions in the text-processing to follow, and
  • It also helps you to read the text critically.

Write down at least 5 (key) words you expect to find in the text.

This step makes you activate your linguistic knowledge and focus on topic-related lexical items and to some extent on syntactic features like the passive, nominalizations, etc.

Answer yourself is the text

a) An extract from a book?...
b) a newspaper article?...
c) a magazine article?...
d) a scientific article?...

Identifying the type of text helps you to get an idea about the readers the author wants to address and about the likely 'depth', accuracy, and 'seriousness' of the text.

When was it written / published?

To know when a text was written and/or published influences your expectations towards its topicality. You should check if the text has been edited more than once (as a possible indicator of relevance) and if you have the latest edition in front of you.

Do you know anything by / about this author / journal / publisher?

Being familiar with an author's theoretical, methodological or even political background through former reading may help to make the anticipations from step 1 more precise. The same applies to knowing about the quality and reputation of a publisher and its publications.

Read through the whole text as quickly as possible. Don't worry about the words you don't understand. Now write down, in not more than 15 words, the main theme of the text.

Dealing with this task requires competence in "skimming". When you come across a word which you don't know and which you think is important for the text write it down and beside it write your idea of what it probably means. Use the dictionary only if absolutely necessary.

Reflect briefly whether the text may suit the needs that made you choose it as a source of information.

The results of your working should be used for answers to questions like:

- Is this the subject matter I expected this text to be about?
- Is it likely that in a detailed reading this text will fulfill my reading purpose and suit my information needs?

Questions like these are relevant for an economical approach to the mass of texts you are confronted with in the course of your studies and research.

It will much depend on your answers here whether you will continue dealing with a certain text or not. The clearer they are the better you will feel with your decision.

Read through the text again, paragraph by paragraph. Try to understand as much as you can. When you come across a word which you don't know and which you think is important for the text write it down and beside it write your idea of what it probably means.

You should apply everything you've learned about meaning decoding strategies and how to use them.

Write down the main idea of each paragraph using one sentence only.

In this step you are asked to reconstruct the more or less obvious links between the pieces of information you found and to combine their major elements into information units at a higher, i.e. a more general and more abstract level. In doing that you should pay special attention to linguistic means like "Reference Words" and / or "Logical Connectors".
Whether you write your sentences / notes in the margin of the text or on separate sheet of paper, remember to try to be concise. The purpose of making notes on readings is to select and organize material for subsequent review. Try not to let yourself become overwhelmed by the mass of details you will encounter in some readings. Strive to select the important elements and organize them in a manner that makes sense to you. Your goal is to integrate and synthesize the information into a comprehensible whole that is easy to remember.

Identify and mark the main parts / sections of the text according to their function (Introduction / Main Part + (sub parts) / Conclusion). Give one content-related keyword each.

To identify the basic structure of the text you need to continue with the processes of generalizing and abstracting you performed at the previous step.

Draw a diagram or a flowchart to show how the information in the text is organized. Divide the text into sections. Name the sections according to their function (e.g. introduction, main part(s), conclusion etc.) and give one content-related keyword for each.

Dealing successfully with this task requires a basic concept of how information elements in a text are combined by an author to build the text's structure. Being able to reconstruct and to visualize its structure is very helpful if you want to

  • Check your understanding of the text,
  • Express the knowledge gained in a visual manner that, like your notes,
  • Makes it fairly easy for you to refresh or to revive this knowledge at a later time, e.g. for exam-preparation.

Reconstructed the text's content, apply questions to what you've read, questions that help you check your understanding of the text and lead to answers that help in critically evaluating the text's relevance and value in the light of your reading purpose.

Reading leads to thinking. Questioning at various levels leads to thinking at those various levels. When we ask only the most basic questions, we think only the most basic thoughts. When we question at deeper levels, we think more deeply.

Ask question yourself.

Summarizing / definition/fact questions

- "What is...? "
- "How much...?"
- "How many...?"

Analysis/interpretation questions:

- "What is the process of...?"
- "What are the functions of...?"
- "What is the relationship between...?"
- "What is (are) the problems, or conflicts, or issues...?"
- "What are possible solutions...?"
- "What evidence or proof or support is offered...?"

Critical analysis/evaluation/opinion questions:

- "Is the text relevant?"
- "Is it correct / incorrect?"
- "Is it logical / illogical?"
- "Do I agree with...?"

Write a summary of the text.

On a separate sheet write a summary of the text. Not more than 100 words! Which of the expectations/ anticipations you meet?

What do you think about of the text?

Evaluate it in the light of your reading purpose. Give reasons for your evaluation.



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