Skills for Reading Quickly

The first time you read a text intensively:

  • Focus on the content words (usually nouns, verbs, adjectives)

It is easy to read this by focusing on the content words in bold.

  • Read in groups of two or more words (read phrases not words) eg subject + verb + object

At the age of 16 / most students take exams / in about ten different subjects

  • Prepositional phrases

At the age of 16 / most students take exams / in about ten different subjects

  • In complex sentences, identify and focus on the main clause

Vary your reading rate

Decrease speed when you find the following:

  • An unfamiliar word not made clear by the sentence: Try to understand it from the way it’s used; then read on and return to it later.
  • Long and uninvolved sentence and paragraph structure: Slow down enough to enable you to untangle them and get an accurate idea of what the passage says.
  • Unfamiliar or abstract ideas: Look for applications or examples which will give them meaning. Demand that an idea “make sense.” Never give up until you understand, because it will be that much easier the next time.
  • Detailed, technical material: This includes complicated directions, abstract principles, materials on which you have little background.

Increase speed when you find the following:

  • Simple material with few ideas new to you:Move rapidly over the familiar.
  • Unnecessary examples and illustrations:These are included to clarify ideas. If not needed, move over them quickly.
  • Detailed explanation: Elaboration which you do not need can be scanned quickly.
  • Broad, generalised ideas: These can be rapidly grasped, even with scan techniques.

Source: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/pte-success/1/steps/930514

Writing a summary

How to summarise

The following outlines the three stages and steps for summarising.

Before writing:

  • Quickly scan the passage to identify the topic and purpose.
  • Read the passage carefully to understand the content. Try to infer the meaning of any unknown words and phrases.
  • Re-read the passage and note down the topic sentences and key words on your erasable noteboard.

While writing:

  • Stick to the topic and purpose of the text. Keep the meaning and degree of certainty the same as the original writing.
  • Focus on the key words and the main ideas only. Key points in the text will usually be repeated, developed and highlighted; include these in your writing.
  • Write your summary without referring to the original, making sure to include all the main points. Do not include examples or supporting evidence in your summary.
  • Use vocabulary that is relevant to the passage and appropriate for an academic environment. The best test responses use words from the passage appropriately and use synonyms effectively to show variety and range in language use.
  • Do not add anything to the summary that was not present in the original and you should not include your opinion.

After writing

  • Check the content of your summary to make sure it conveys the main ideas in the passage.
  • Check that the basic structure of the sentence is correct. The best test responses are usually complex sentences that consist of a main clause and subordinate clause.
  • Check punctuation and spelling. Make sure your sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop.
  • Check the length of your summary. Make sure you write only one sentence that is no more than 75 words long. Check your word count after you have typed your response.

How young children learn

Young children learn in an integrated way and not in neat, tidy compartments. A child making shapes out of plasticine is learning maths (shape) and art (texture, shape, design, colour), building fine motor skills (physical development), and hearing or using language to describe shapes, colour, texture, materials and techniques (English). The activity drives the need to communicate.

Young children will learn a language better when they see a genuine need for communication, which is often the language they are hearing or using while they are doing an activity that they enjoy.

While adults can plan a range a activities to enhance the learning experience, not all of them will be motivating for every child. Children more likely to be motivated if the activity or experience is meaningful to them. Taking time to get to know the children and finding out what they are interested in is essential if you want to motivate them and help them learn.

The interactions you have with a child while they are engaged in an activity help develop language and communication in context, making the language learning more memorable and authentic.

Rhymes, songs and chants help children memorise words and sentence structure, and they also help with pronunciation, expression and the rhythm of sentences. Children learn their home language by playing with language in this way, and it’s a fun way for them to learn another language too!

A good story takes children to an imaginary world filled with characters and events that will make them want to find out what happens in the end, and that they will want to hear again, join in retelling, and even retell in their own words. Illustrations and actions help children understand descriptions of characters and events, because they can connect what they are seeing and doing with the language in the story.

Giving clear, simple instructions in English with accompanying actions, gestures or demonstrations is more likely to result in children understanding. Children love copying – the teacher, their parents, older siblings or friends – and will often join in after observing how something is done. Including routines is also a useful way of helping young children understand what is expected of them (e.g. every time we sit on the mat we will hear a story or sing a song). Children may not understand straight away, but giving instructions in English is an excellent way of reinforcing key language, so in the long run it’s worth the effort.

Terminology for Reading and Listening

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Reading for gist/Skimming

Reading quickly to get a general understanding of a written text, eg reading a description of a city to find out if it sounds like somewhere you’d like to visit.

Reading for specific information/Scanning

Searching for a particular piece of information in a written text, eg reading a description of a city only to find out which country it’s in.

Reading/listening for detail

Reading or listening more carefully so that you get a full understanding of the text, eg reading a description of a city to find out everything about it.

Listening for gist

Getting a general understanding of something you hear, eg listening to the weather forecast and deciding you might need to take an umbrella when you go out.

Listening for specific information

Listening for a particular piece of information, eg listening to the weather forecast to find out what the temperature will be tomorrow.

Inferring meaning

Making guesses about what is not stated explicitly in a text, eg listening or reading a conversation and deciding that the people are brother and sister without them saying so.

Coherence

Organising ideas in a logical way when speaking or writing so that the listener or reader can follow our ideas.

Cohesion

Joining sentences together using words like and, but and because so our language flows more easily.

Interactive strategies

Strategies we use when we are speaking, eg showing you are listening to other people by saying things like, mmmm or uh-uh or oh!

Turn taking

An interactive strategy which is about knowing when you can join in a conversation and signalling when you think someone else should speak.

Fluency

For speaking; this is speaking without a lot of hesitation and too many long pauses. For writing; this means you can write without stopping for a long time to think about what to write.

Why is it so hard to choose broccoli 🥦 over doughnut 🍩

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How to answer interview questions


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Strength-based questions

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A number of employers have introduced ‘strength-based questions’ into interviews. They focus on what you enjoy doing and what you are particularly good at rather than what you can do, so be prepared to be open and honest.

Consider your achievements not just in your studies and at work but also in activities such as sports, interest groups or volunteering. Think about what aspects you enjoy and why you are good at them. This should help you to understand your strengths and prepare you for strength-based questions.

Types of questions that are looking for strengths include:

  • How do you know if you’ve had a good day?
  • Describe something that you learnt recently.
  • What activities come naturally to you?
  • Would you prefer to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?
  • Describe your favourite interest outside of your work or studies.
  • What have you done that you are most proud of? Why was it significant?
  • What are your greatest strengths? When do you use them?

In describing your strengths, you may be able to provide evidence of the skills and experience asked for in the job description, such as team work, project work, communication skills or customer service.

For example:

  • You enjoy playing the violin as part of an amateur orchestra.
  • You may feel that you’ve had a good day after completing a difficult project on time.
  • You would describe yourself as a good listener, who is able to communicate with people from different backgrounds and cultures.
  • You are particularly proud of your customer service skills and have gone out of your way to help people recently.

Use the comments below if you can think of other strength-based questions, and how you might answer them.

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