More about Reading Comprehension as a process

In my last post we discussed Reading Comprehension as a process.

The following is the second text presenting a new aspect of our general theme: Culture, Customs and Manners. The objective is to enrich the students' information and knowledge of the topic since prior knowledge certainly facilitates comprehension of a text.

Introducing Text No. 2

Let's start with an Oral Activity.

Look at the following cartoon

(Click on the link below: Culture Cartoon.)

culture cartoon

Describe the cartoon.

  • Where does the scene take place? Explain your answer.
  • What are the people doing?
  • In what way is one of the characters different from the others? Explain.
  • What is the expression on the people's faces? Can you explain?
  • Does anybody seem out of place? Why?

Developing class discussion based on the cartoon.

  • Have you ever been to a cocktail party / formal ball? How did people behave? How did you feel?
  • In many countries there is a formal ball to celebrate High School graduation. The boys wear three piece suits and ties and the girls wear long evening dresses. What kind of party is your class planning? What kind of party would you like?
  • In the cartoon, the boy seems completely out of place. People stare at him. Some of them probably make fun of him. What might have happened? Why did he show up looking like that? What should he do?

Text No. 2

People in different cultures behave in different ways. Moreover, even in the same culture, we behave and speak differently according to the situation and the people we are speaking to. We do not talk to the teachers the way we talk to our classmates. We may not speak to the officers the way we speak to our friends, our fellow soldiers. We do not address the judge in court the way we address our next door neighbors.

People who intend to work for the Foreign Affairs Office take special courses in manners and proper behavior. They learn how to dress in different occasions, how to set a table for a formal dinner and how to approach different people. After all, using the wrong fork for the fish, pouring wine into the wrong glass or patting the king's shoulder instead of bowing to him, might create an international diplomatic crisis.

The same applies to language. There is formal and informal language. You do not speak the way you write, and you certainly do not speak or write the same way on different occasions. Calling the judge by his first name might be considered contempt of court. Addressing your neighbor as "your highness" would be funny, to say the least. Common expressions like "cute" and "rubbish" would be out of place in formal speech. Highly formal language would seem funny in an ordinary conversation with friends. Knowing what to say, where, when, to whom, and especially how, is a rare talent, a real gift.

Working on the text

Read the text carefully.

  • Find the main idea of every paragraph.
  • Can you sum up the text in three sentences?
  • Choose a suitable title for the text.

Writing and Language Activities

1. Rewrite the following sentences.

  • We behave and speak differently according to the situation. (different)
  • Using the wrong fork for the fish might create a diplomatic scandal.
    If ,
  • Calling the judge by his first name might be considered contempt of court.
    If ,
    you might be accused
  • Common expressions like "cute" and "rubbish" would be out of place in a formal speech.
    You don't use

2. Complete the following sentences according to the text.

  • If you wish to work …,
    you must …
  • You must never be too familiar …
  • In the course, you will learn how …
  • When you write a letter, your language is usually …
  • You should bow …
    and not …
    as if he were …
  • In different situations, with different people, we speak and behave ….
  • You should not use slang …
  • We do not speak to teachers, officers and judges …
  • It may be very embarrassing to use the wrong fork or pour wine …

3. Rearrange the sentences that you have just completed in chronological order according to the passage.

4. Choose 5 or six sentences that would best sum up the text.

Homework Assignment

Write 2 – 3 paragraphs about one of the following subjects:

  • Describe different manners that newcomers have brought from their countries.
  • Can different manners sometimes cause misunderstandings? Give examples. Discuss.
  • In some schools students call their teachers by their first name. They do not stand up when the teacher comes into the classroom. Are you for or against these formalities? Justify your answer.


And that's all for today. More texts and suggestions in my next post.

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