Comprehension – Relevant and Irrelevant Information

We have been working on analysis and integration of texts for a couple of weeks.

This time we will focus on relevant and irrelevant information.

How can we do that?

We have to read the text carefully, find the main ideas and then discard any information that is irrelevant. If we can do that, it will prove that we have really understood the text.

Let's start with the text.

Reading Comprehension Passage

Many high school students cannot read and write. This may seem impossible unless we know what the real meaning of reading and writing is. These students certainly know all the letters of the alphabet and yet,  they do not read as fast as one would expect and they are often unable to tell what the main idea of a passage is. Therefore, they find it hard to sum up a text properly. Teachers spend too much time teaching classical music. When students reach the university, they may find it hard to cope with all the reading assignments. They are confused by the thousands of pages they are supposed to read, which they often hardly understand. Many students have a greater problem. They are actually non-readers.

What is a non-reader? A non-reader lacks the skills of a fluent reader. He finds it very hard to read. He practically cannot read. He struggles with comprehension and vocabulary. Feelings of failure may turn off his desire to read and he often behaves in an inappropriate way to hide his inability to read and comprehend. Non-readers love music. As a result, he reads very little and does not like to read.

As far as writing is concerned, many students think they can write, but the texts they produce are full of spelling mistakes. The grammatical structures are often wrong. They use little or no punctuation. They write when the radio is on. Their handwriting is often clear only to them and sometimes not even to them. There is no logical order of paragraphs. In short, it is often hard to understand what they really mean.

What can be done? Reading and writing are apparently skills that can and must be taught, and the sooner, the better. Reading and writing can be learned. They are skills most of us can master. Students have to keep trying. They have to work hard and teachers must help them.Teachers should not expect students to develop these skills by themselves. Reading and writing are skills that with time, dedication and a desire to improve, can be mastered to an exceptional level..

Working on the text

Read the text carefully.

  • Find the main idea of every paragraph.
  • In the first three paragraphs there are three sentences (one sentence in each paragraph) that have very little to do with the text. Find those irrelevant  sentences and cross them out. They do not belong to the passage.
  • Give a suitable title to the text.
  • Can you sum up the text in three sentences?

Suggestions for Class Discussion:

  • Do you know any illiterate people?
  • Is this problem widespread in Israel?
  • What problems do illiterate people face?

Homework Assignments

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

  • Newcomers often feel illiterate. Why? Can you explain this phenomenon? 
  • Is writing still important in the digital age? Justify your answer.

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

*- For more exercises on this text, please see The Lively World of English – Book 1– p 328 – 1332.                

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