Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Lesson 2: Interpret & Use Information From Texts

ryanrori October 31, 2020

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Introduction

 

How we discuss a text is directly related to how we read that text. More to the point here, how we read a text is shaped by how we expect to discuss it. While you may not be asked to write about texts at school, and probably will not be asked to write about texts in your job, you must learn how to talk about texts to discover what makes them work.

 

A reader gains, and is accountable for, a different kind of understanding.

  • Restatement:   restating what the text says –  talks about the original topic
  • Description:     describing what a text does –  identifies aspects of the presentation
  • Interpretation:   analyse what a text means –  asserts an overall meaning

Readers read in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes.

  • They can read for information, sentence by sentence, taking each assertion as a discrete fact.
  • They can read for meaning, following an argument and weighing its logical and persuasive effects.
  • They can read critically, evaluating unstated assumptions and biases, consciously identifying patterns of language and content and their interrelationships.

How we choose to read a particular text will depend on the nature of the text and our specific goals at the time.  When we assume a factual presentation, we might read for what a text says.  When we assume personal bias, we look deeper to interpret underlying meanings and perspectives.

As a reader, you must know what you intended to do, and whether or not you have accomplished it. You must adjust how you read to the nature of the reading material, the nature of the reading assignment, and the manner in which you will be held accountable for your reading.

2.1         Reading/viewing strategies (SO1)

The processing strategies that readers use are:

  • attending and searching – looking purposefully for particular information, known words, familiar text features, patterns of syntax, and information in pictures and diagrams;
  • predicting – forming expectations or anticipating what will come next by drawing on prior knowledge and experience of language;
  • cross-checking and confirming – checking to ensure that the reading makes sense and fits with all the information already processed;
  • self-correcting – detecting or suspecting that an error has been made and searching for additional information in order to arrive at the right meaning.

Reading can be thought of as a constantly repeated process of attending and searching, predicting, crosschecking, and confirming or self-correcting. These strategies are not discrete stages; they constantly interact and support one another. They are used in complex combinations, and experienced readers usually apply them automatically.

Comprehension strategies, like the processing strategies, are tools that the reader uses with a purpose in view. Comprehension strategies may be described as:

  • making connections between prior knowledge and the text;
  • forming and testing hypotheses about texts;
  • asking questions;
  • creating mental images, or visualising;
  • inferring;
  • identifying the author’s purpose and point of view;
  • identifying and summarising main ideas;
  • analysing and synthesising ideas and information;
  • evaluating ideas and information.

Like the strategies for processing text, comprehension strategies are not discrete processes to be used one at a time.

2.1.2        Identifying unfamiliar words (AC1)

 

Readers use information from text to decipher unfamiliar words. They examine clues from the selection to define unfamiliar words and phrases. Context refers to the words that come before and/or after an unfamiliar word. Sometimes when an author is introducing a concept, she will use synonyms (words that have similar meanings) to help readers make connections. Sometimes when an author is introducing a concept, she will use antonyms (words that have opposite meanings) to help readers make connections. Context may include a definition provided within the article. Examples are often provided to give readers clues about a concept. Authors often help readers visualise story ideas with descriptive details. The picture painted by the author’s description may provide clues to an unfamiliar word. If context does not provide sufficient clues, readers use reference materials to define words.

 

The Word Identification Strategy

The Word Identification Strategy used in SIM was developed by Lenz and Hughes (1990) and initially tested on 12 middle school students with learning disabilities. This strategy is intended to help struggling readers decode and identify unfamiliar words, and is based on the common underlying structure of most polysyllabic words in English. Most of these words can be pronounced by identifying the components of the words (prefixes, suffixes, and stems) and then applying three syllabication rules to the stem word. In this approach, prefixes and suffixes are loosely defined as recognisable groups of letters that the student can pronounce.

As described by Lenz and Hughes (1990), there are seven steps to identifying an unknown word. The steps are remembered using the first-letter mnemonic, DISSECT:

  • Step 1: Discover the context. This step requires the student to skip over the unknown word and read to the end of the sentence. Then, the student uses the apparent meaning of the sentence to guess what word might best fit. If the guess does not match the unknown word, the student moves on to the next step.
  • Step 2: Isolate the prefix. In this step, students look for a pronounceable sequence of letters at the beginning of the word. Students are taught a list of prefixes to facilitate recognition. If a prefix is identified, the student draws a box around it to separate it visually from the rest of the word (for example, in the word inactivity, the “in” would be boxed; in underachievement, the “under” would be boxed).
  • Step 3: Separate the suffix. Using a procedure similar to Step 2, the student boxes off the suffix, if there is one (in the word inactivity, the “ity” would be boxed; in underachievement, the “ment” would be boxed).
  • Step 4: Say the stem. The student attempts to pronounce the stem (activ, achieve). If the stem cannot be named, the student moves on to Step 5.
  • Step 5: Examine the stem. In this step, the student divides the stem into small, pronounceable word parts, using “the Rules of Twos and Threes” (Lenz & Hughes, 1990, p. 151). The rules can be summarised as follows:
  • Rule 1: If the stem or part of the stem begins with a vowel, separate the first two letters; if it begins with a consonant, separate first three letters; continue to apply this rule until the end of the stem is reached (activ, achieve).
  • Rule 2: If you can’t make sense of the stem after using Rule 1, take off the first letter of the stem and use Rule 1 for the remainder of the stem (achieve).
  • Rule 3: When two vowels are together, use what you know about pronunciation (for example, pronounce two adjacent vowels as a single sound, and remember that a final e following a consonant is usually silent) and try the different possibilities (achiv, achev).
  • Step 6: Check with someone. The student checks with a teacher, parent, or other person.
  • Step 7: Try the dictionary. The student looks up the word, uses pronunciation information to pronounce the word, and, if the word is unfamiliar, reads the definition.

Lenz and Hughes (1990) recommend that the strategy be fully employed only for those words that are most critical to understanding a passage of text, such as a word in a chapter heading. Bryant, Vaughn, Linan-Thompson, Ugel, Hamff, & Hougen (2000) note that this strategy works best when the word being analysed is one that is already in the student’s listening vocabulary.

2.1.3        Ambiguous words (AC2)

In general terms, a word is ambiguous if its intended meaning is in some way unclear to the reader. There are three main reasons why this can happen:

  • The meaning of the word is imprecise or open to more than one interpretation. For example, in “the Sun is bright”, ‘bright’ is a relative term that does nothing to inform the reader of how bright the Sun actually is not, nor how bright it is compared to other celestial bodies. Editors should always avoid using terms such as these, except in quotations.
  • Some words have multiple interpretations and have different meanings dependent upon one’s perspective. What one source describes as a ‘war’, may be described as an ‘invasion’ by the other side. Use of such words tends to be seen as advocating the views of one side over the other, unless they are clearly attributed to the correct side. Rather than “this is a war”, state that it is viewed as a war, and who views it as such, providing suitable references. For complete neutrality, the opposing view should also be mentioned and cited, with due weight given to each side.
  • Words with multiple definitions tend to cause the greatest problems, because the individual definitions may not be ambiguous. The ambiguity arises because the reader may not be certain as to which definition is intended by the editor. In such cases, always provide sufficient context or explanation to make it clear to any reader which definition is intended.

In some cases, wording can be ambiguous although the words are not. For example, it is common to explain an unfamiliar term by using “or” and a familiar synonym in parentheses: “the orca (or killer whale) …”. To someone unfamiliar with the subject this can be ambiguous, suggesting an alternative; compare the valid sentences “A seal pup can be eaten by an orca (or killer whale).” and “A seal pup can be eaten by an orca (or polar bear).” A clearer alternative is to omit “or”: “A seal pup can be eaten by an orca (killer whale).”

 

1.4 Main Ideas & Supporting Facts

The main idea of a lesson, section, or paragraph is what it is mostly about. It is the idea that the author most wants you to understand when you read. Supporting details in a lesson tell more about the main idea. They help you better understand the main idea and why it is important.

The main idea of a lesson can often be found on the first page of the lesson. Sometimes, special kinds of lessons in your textbooks, such as biographies, experiments, and activities, may not have a main idea written on the first page. You will have to read the lesson in order to figure out the main idea. You need to ask yourself what the purpose of the lesson or activity is.

Sometimes the main ideas of sections or paragraphs are written in one sentence. Other times, you will have to read the section or paragraph, and ask yourself what is most important. Sometimes, the headings in a lesson can give you important clues about the main idea.

Although the main idea is the most important idea in a lesson, section, or paragraph, most of the lesson is made up of supporting details. Understanding the supporting details helps you understand the main idea. You can find the supporting details that support a main idea in many different places in the lesson.

Look at:

  • the sentences that make up paragraphs and sections.
  • graphics including illustrations, photographs, charts, graphs, and maps.
  • the captions, or writing that explains the graphics.
  • sidebars, or boxes on the side of the text that provide additional information about the topic.
  • vocabulary words, including words that are in bold print, italics, or that are highlighted. These words are often important supporting details that support the main idea.

 

Once you find the supporting details, ask yourself:

  • how does each supporting detail provide evidence to support the main idea?
  • how important is each supporting detail to understanding the main idea? (Some supporting details will be more important than others.)
  • why did the author choose to include that supporting detail?
  • how does the supporting detail help you understand the main idea?

 

Understanding the connection between the supporting details and the main idea will help you better understand the lesson.

A paraphrase is when you write published materials in your own words without changing its original meaning. It is usually about the same length as the original, as opposed to a summary which is usually much shorter. It is important that the sentence structure and the vocabulary are not too similar to the original.

The main way to paraphrase is to:

  • change the structure of the paragraph
  • change the words.

It is not enough to do just one of these; you need to change the structure and the words. You must do this to avoid plagiarism.

 

Use the following steps to change the structure of a paragraph:

  • Write down the main ideas & concepts: Read the paragraph and write down the main points or words. Do not copy down entire sentences.
  • Put the original away: Put the paragraph / book away and using the main points, write your paraphrase from memory. This means that you are not copying the text word for word.
  • Check your version against the original: To avoid accidental plagiarism, check what you have written against the original text. You should check that they are not the same as well to see if you have left anything out.

 

Changing the words

People’s writing styles and the words they use are very distinct. It is generally easy to tell when someone has copied directly from a textbook, as the language and the words used change from the writer’s normal style and vocabulary. To paraphrase a text, follow these steps:

  • Read the sentence to be paraphrased a number of times: Read the sentence / paragraph you want to paraphrase a number of times to get the meaning of the text. Once you understand it, write out the sentence in your own words. If you do not fully understand the text, do not attempt to paraphrase it, as you will just copy it.
  • Circle the specialised words: Circle the specialised words, i.e. the words that the text is actually about. These will need to be included in your paraphrase, as without these words, the meaning of the paraphrase will change completely.
  • Underline keywords that can be changed: Underline the keywords that can be changed. You now have a starting point to construct your paraphrase.
  • Find alternative words for the keywords: Find other words and phrases that have similar meanings that can be used to replace the keywords in the text. Use a thesaurus or dictionary to help if need be.

A summary is:

  • the most important information of every paragraph – join that into a new paragraph and then take the most important information of the new paragraph you made
  • putting the essential point(s) into a simple, short, statement or paragraph.

 

Here are ways that you can do this:

  • look for terms or phrases printed in bold – this means that they are important points
  • read the heading of the section and turn it into a question – read to find the information that answers that question
  • answer the key questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why?
  • break down large ideas into smaller and smaller ones until you have only the most important ideas written
  • imagine how you would write this information for a newspaper article
  • imagine that you have to pay the classified ads to put this information in the newspaper and use only the most important parts

Here is an example of summarising:

THE TEXT:

Dinosaurs, one of the most successful groups of animals (in terms of longevity) that have ever lived, evolved into many diverse sizes and shapes, with many equally diverse modes of living. The term “Dinosauria” was invented by Sir Richard Owen in 1842 to describe these “fearfully great reptiles,” specifically Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, and Hylaeosaurus, the only three dinosaurs known at the time. The creatures that we normally think of as dinosaurs lived during the Mesozoic Era, from late in the Triassic period (about 225 million years ago) until the end of the Cretaceous (about 65 million years ago). But we now know that they actually live on today as the birds.

SUMMARY:

Here are the important terms in this paragraph:

Who: dinosaurs, Sir Richard Owen

What: animals, reptiles, birds

When: Mesozoic Era from 225 million years ago to 65 million years ago, from late Triassic to late Cretaceous – term invented in 1842

Where: not given in this paragraph

Why: dinosaurs were “one of the most successful groups of animals”

Write it out:

Dinosaurs were reptiles. They lived from 225 million years ago until 65 million years ago. This period was called the Mesozoic Era. Sir Richard Owen invented the term Dinosaur in 1852. Dinosaurs were “one of the most successful groups of animals.” They evolved into birds.

 

1.5 Visual & Graphic Representations

Graphic communication as the name suggests is communication through graphics and graphical aids. It is the process of creating, producing, and distributing material incorporating words and images to convey data, concepts, and emotions.

Examples are:

  • photographs,
  • drawings,
  • line art,
  • graphs,
  • diagrams,
  • typography,
  • numbers,
  • symbols,
  • geometric designs,
  • maps,
  • engineering drawings, or
  • other images.

 

Graphics often combine test, illustration, and colour. Graphic design may consist of the deliberate selection, creation, or arrangement of typography alone, as in a brochure, flier, poster, web site, or book without any other element.

 

Visual communication

Visual communication as the name suggests is communication through visual aid. It is the conveyance of ideas and information in forms that can be read or looked upon. Primarily associated with two dimensional images, it includes: signs, typography, drawing, graphic design, illustration, colour and electronic resources. It solely relies on vision.

It is form of communication with visual effect. It explores the idea that a visual message with text has a greater power to inform, educate or persuade a person. It is communication by presenting information through Visual form. The evaluation of a good visual design is based on measuring comprehension by the audience, not on aesthetic or artistic preference.

There are no universally agreed-upon principles of beauty and ugliness. There exists a variety of ways to present information visually, like gestures, body languages, video and TV. Here, focus is on the presentation of text, pictures, diagrams, photos, et cetera, integrated on a computer display.

The term visual presentation is used to refer to the actual presentation of information. Recent research in the field has focused on web design and graphically oriented usability. Graphic designers use methods of visual communication in their professional practice.

1.6 Features Of Visual Text

If you can read a map, draw a diagram or interpret symbols like                            or                      then you are visually literate. Visual literacy is the reading and writing of visual texts.

 

What are visual texts?

A text is anything with which we make meaning. Books, websites, videos, even smiles and gestures can be thought of as texts. A visual text makes its meanings with images, or with meaningful patterns and sequences. For example, a diagram uses images, while a flow chart arranges information in meaningful sequences.

Visual texts range from diagrams to documentaries. They can be printed (such as an atlas) or electronic (such as a DVD). They can be fiction (such as a movie) or nonfiction (such as a street map). Visual messages are everywhere: on street signs, in books, on television news and packaging. Even the buildings we inhabit and the clothes we wear convey visual messages.

Although visual texts make meaning with images, they don’t have to be without words: in fact, words and images are often combined to make the meaning.

Think of a map: the words are needed to name the places, while the images are needed to show where those places are and the distances between them.

An exploded diagram separates the parts of a subject so that each part can be seen clearly.

Key features

  • “Exploded” parts: each part separated out from its neighbours as if laid flat on a table.
  • Labels: to name the separated parts.
  • Integrated image: shows the subject “put back together” so that we see how the pieces fit.

[Example is from Body Maps. Illustration by Ester Kasepuu]

 

Example of visual texts

There is a great difference between what a person intends to say and what a person may actually say. An implicit message is one in which communication is not plainly expressed. It is implied. Implicit messages can entangle the real or intended message.

 

2  Implicit Messages In Text

Implicit, or unspoken, messages can cause others to feel frustrated, confused or angry. When you receive implicit or hidden messages in the communications of others, it can confuse future communication. That’s why it’s important to say what you mean and mean what you say. For example, the implicit message in the sentence, “My stomach is rumbling,” could translate into the explicit message, “I’m hungry. When are we going to eat?”

If you adopt this unproductive and discouraging way of communicating by using implicit messages, your relationships may not be as fulfilling as you would like them to be. For example, after a disagreement during a discussion you are sitting next to the person with whom you are in a relationship. She states, “I’m cold.” She then moves away from you and wraps herself in a comforter. There can be a certain meaning or expectation implied in her message, and/or she may be disguising her own feelings of insecurity.

Your perception is that she is withdrawing from you and insulating herself with the comforter. Your explicit message would be, “I’m feeling distant, anxious, and insecure after our disagreement.” This explicit message clearly states the person’s feelings and allows an opportunity for further discussion. Concealed, or implicit, messages disguise the person’s real emotions which may cause future complications.

Take personal responsibility for clarifying implicit messages to prevent the development of walls and barriers to communication. Don’t let hidden messages become the rule rather than the exception. Make the implicit (unspoken), explicit (spoken). Clearly state what you mean without reservation or disguise. Leave nothing implied. You can check out what the person feels by directly asking them, “Are you feeling distant and uncomfortable after our discussion? I’d like to clear up what’s going on between us.” Checking out the intended meaning in the message (“I’m cold”) will facilitate productive communication and congruent behaviour, resulting in healthier relationships.

Start now! Don’t allow your future decisions and feelings to be controlled by unproductive past experiences. Now is the time to courageously move forward and change your unproductive, past communications.

Develop greater self-respect by becoming more capable and responsible for communicating with clarity, consistency, and decisiveness. Get in touch with your optimism and courage to overcome your incongruent, self-defeating communication and behaviour. Use your empathy and communication skills to develop the new, success-focused you! Your potential is unlimited!

2.2 Source Of Text

Primary Sources: Primary sources are original materials. They are from the time period involved and have not been filtered through interpretation or evaluation. Primary sources are original materials on which other research is based. They are usually the first formal appearance of results in physical, print or electronic format. They present original thinking, report a discovery, or share new information.

Examples include:

  • Artefacts (e.g. coins, plant specimens, fossils, furniture, tools, clothing, all from the time under study);
  • Audio recordings (e.g. radio programs)
  • Diaries;
  • Internet communications on email, lists;
  • Interviews (e.g., oral histories, telephone, e-mail);
  • Journal articles published in peer-reviewed publications;
  • Letters;
  • Newspaper articles written at the time;
  • Original Documents (i.e. birth certificate, will, marriage license, trial transcript);
  • Patents;
  • Photographs
  • Proceedings of Meetings, conferences and symposia;
  • Records of organisations, government agencies (e.g. annual report, treaty, constitution, government document);
  • Speeches;
  • Survey Research (e.g., market surveys, public opinion polls);
  • Video recordings (e.g. television programs);
  • Works of art, architecture, literature, and music (e.g., paintings, sculptures, musical scores, buildings, novels, poems).
  • Web site.

 

Secondary Sources: Secondary sources are less easily defined than primary sources. Generally, they are accounts written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. They are interpretations and evaluations of primary sources. Secondary sources are not evidence, but rather commentary on and discussion of evidence. However, what some define as a secondary source, others define as a tertiary source. Context is everything.

Examples include:

  • Bibliographies (also considered tertiary);
  • Biographical works;
  • Commentaries, criticisms;
  • Dictionaries, Encyclopaedias (also considered tertiary);
  • Histories;
  • Journal articles (depending on the disciple can be primary);
  • Magazine and newspaper articles (this distinction varies by discipline);
  • Monographs, other than fiction and autobiography;
  • Textbooks (also considered tertiary);
  • Web site (also considered primary).

 

 

Tertiary Sources: Tertiary sources consist of information which is a distillation and collection of primary and secondary sources.

Examples include:

  • Almanacs;
  • Bibliographies (also considered secondary);
  • Chronologies;
  • Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias (also considered secondary);
  • Directories;
  • Fact books;
  • Guidebooks;
  • Indexes, abstracts, bibliographies used to locate primary and secondary sources;
  • Manuals;
  • Textbooks (also be secondary).

We are constantly surrounded by information, and it is not always easy to know which sources to trust. Being able to evaluate the credibility of information is an important skill used in school, work, and day-to-day life. With so much advertising, controversy, and blogging going on, how do you sift through the chaff and cut to the chase?

  • Think about how reliable you need the information to be. Everyone has different standards for credibility, and often this depends on how the information is going to be applied. If you’re writing an academic paper in a university setting, for example, you need to be especially strict about sources. If you’re looking for information on how to unclog your toilet, a comprehensive Internet search might suffice. If your project falls somewhere in the middle, such as if you’re making a presentation at work or creating a website, it’s important to evaluate sources and make a judgment call as to whether you should include the information and if so, how it should be presented.
  • Consider the medium with which you are working. Generally, the more that is invested into the creation and publishing of the material, the more likely you is to find reliable information. For example, printed material has a higher cost of production than an Internet blog, which anyone can publish for free. A peer-reviewed journal is considered a reliable source because each article must undergo a rigorous review process, with many professional reviewers involved. Peer-review does not necessarily indicate that the other field expert reviewers are in agreement with the conclusions of the original writer. Peer-reviewers examine accuracy of factual information, rigor of experimental process, and respond with questions and critique of any conclusion made. They may disagree with the writer in question, but they agree that the foundation of the article is based on top-notch thinking in the field.

This is not to say that you should completely avoid Internet sources (a blog published by a distinguished scientist commenting on a study could be useful) nor should you immediately trust a well-researched publication (material sponsored by large corporations, for example, can be highly biased). Take everything with a grain of salt.

  • Research the author. A source is more credible if written by someone with a degree or other credentials in the subject of interest. If no author or organisation is named, the source will not be viewed as very credible. However, if the author is presenting original work, evaluate the merit of the ideas– not the credentials. Credentials have never guaranteed innovation and the history of science tells us that the big advances in sciences tend to come from outsiders, not the establishment. Some questions that you should ask about the author are:
    • Where does the author work?
    • If the author is affiliated with a reputable institution or organisation, what are its values and goals? Do they benefit financially by promoting a particular view?
    • What is his or her educational background?
    • What other works has the author published?
    • What experience does the author have? Is he or she an innovator or a follower and promoter of the status quo?
    • Has this author been cited as a source by other scholars or experts in the field?
  • Check the date. Find out when the source was published or revised. In some subject areas, such as the sciences, having current sources is essential; but in other fields, like the humanities, including older material is critical. It’s also possible that you’re looking at an older version of the source, and an updated one has since been published. Check with a scholarly database for academic sources (or an online bookstore for popular sources) to see if a more recent version is available. If so, not only should you find it, but you can also feel more confident about the source–the more printings or editions, the more reliable the information.
  • Investigate the publisher. If the publisher is a university press, the source is likely to be scholarly.
  • Determine the intended audience. Scan the preface, table of contents, index, abstract, and the first few paragraphs of the article or of a few chapters. Is the tone, depth, and breadth appropriate for your project? Using a source that is too specialised for your needs may lead you to misinterpret the information given, which is just as hurtful to your own credibility as using an unreliable source
  • Check the reviews. Find reviews for the source. In the US, you can check Book Review Index, Book Review Digest, Periodical Abstracts. If the book is aimed at a layperson, check reviews online and see how and why others criticized the source. If there is significant controversy surrounding the validity of the source, you may wish to avoid using it, or examine it further with a sceptical eye
  • Evaluate the source’s sources. Citing other reliable sources is a sign of credibility. It is, however, sometimes necessary to verify that the other sources also show a pattern of credibility and are used in context
  • Identify bias. If the source’s author is known to be emotionally or financially connected with the subject, be aware that the source may not fairly represent all views. Sometimes research is necessary to determine relationships that indicate the possibility of bias. Be conscious of wording that indicates judgment. Conclusions that describe something as “bad or good” or “right or wrong” should be examined. It is more appropriate to compare something to an objective standard than to label it with words that represent abstract concepts. Take for example, “…these and other despicable acts…” vs. “…these and other illegal acts…”. The latter describes the acts in terms of the law (an objective source, somewhat) whereas the first example judges the actions according to the author’s own belief of what is a despicable act.
  • Evaluate Consistency. Sources that apply different standards to those who agree and disagree with them are suspect. If your source praises one politician for “changing to meet the needs of his constituency”, but then criticizes an opposing politician for “changing his position with opinion polls”, it is likely that the source is biased.
  • Investigate the financial or funding sources for sponsored research. Determine the sources of funding for the study conducted to get an idea of the potential influences on the study. Various sources of funding can sway the information presented or the way a study is conducted in order to align with their own agendas. If a source does not pass the above guidelines, it does not mean that the information contained within is false. It just indicates that the source may not be reliable.

2.3 Attitudes, Beliefs & Intention Of The Author

Authors Purpose:  Author’s Purpose means that an author writes a poem, novel or short story with the intention to communicate something in their writings, whether it’s to persuade people to believe in something, to entertain with drama or comedy, or to give those reading something to think about.

  • To inform
  • To persuade
  • To entertain

Point of View: Position from which a writer addresses a topic to include beliefs, assumptions, and biases.

Tone: The attitude toward a subject, a character, or the reader.  Choice of words and details convey the tone.

Every time an author writes, he or she has a purpose in mind. Writers usually write to explain, persuade, or to entertain. Understanding an author’s purpose will help readers interpret the information.

The author’s point of view is often expressed through the purpose for writing.

Use the following chart to identify the author’s purpose and point of view.

Type of Writing Author’s Purpose Point of View and Tone
Non-fiction

●        News articles

●        Textbooks

●        Biographies

●        Documentaries

●        Technical Manuals

●        Charts, graphs, tables

To inform, explain, give directions, illustrate, or present information.

The author’s point of view and tone is primarily neutral.

Persuasive Pieces

●        Editorials

●        Advertisements

●        Campaign speeches

●        Bumper stickers

●        Billboards

●        Commercials

●        Some charts and graphs

To persuade by expressing an opinion to convince readers to think/feel/act a certain way.

The point of view clearly reflects the author’s attitude about a subject. Sometimes the opinion is directly stated and other times it is implied.  The author may try to convince readers by using tone to appeal to their feelings and/or values.

Fiction

●        Short story

●        Poetry

●        Novels

●        Drama

To illustrate a theme, event, or story that conveys a mood.  Usually written to entertain.

The author may use characters or narrators to express attitudes in the story. The tone might be light and humorous or serious and sad.

 

Understanding the author’s point of view helps you comprehend what you are reading.  There are questions that you can ask yourself to figure out why the author wrote the text. While reading a piece you should be asking yourself, “Why did the author write this, or what was the reason this piece was written?”

Authors have reasons why they write a piece. Many authors write to inform or teach someone about something. Sometimes authors write for others to enjoy his or her piece. Often authors’ purpose of writing is to persuade their audience to do or not do something.

Most writing is intended to inform or explain, persuade, entertain, or describe. Critical readers can identify the author’s reasons for writing text and adjust their reading method to match the author’s purpose. When students can identify an author’s purpose for writing a text, they are better equipped to evaluate its content as they make inferences and draw conclusions.

 

Reasons authors write:

  • To tell a story
  • To explain how to do something
  • To persuade someone to believe as they do
  • To describe an object, process or place
  • To express feelings

 

Definitions of different modes of writing

  • Expository and Informational writing: shares information about a topic or explains how to do something
  • Descriptive writing: paints a picture in the reader’s mind often making use of sensory details (what the writer sees, hears, smells, feels)
  • Persuasive writing: states the opinion of the writer and attempts to influence or convince the audience. You might think of persuasive writing as informational writing with an attitude. It is intended to convince the reader that a certain point of view is the right one to have, or that some action should be taken.
  • Narrative writing: tells a story. Creative narrative writing has a plot, setting, and characters that have motives for what they do. Good narrative writing also has tension – a problem to be solved or a challenge to overcome. There is a point to the story.
  • Nonfictional Narrative writing: is often used to recount a person’s life story, important historical events, or news stories. This is really a combination of narrative and informational writing because its purpose is both to tell a story and to provide important facts and details. Examples may include biographies and some memoirs.
  • Technical writing: a specialised form of informational writing in which a highly focused topic is explained to a target audience. A successful technical writer must know the topic well enough to explain it to others using the technical vocabulary that is appropriate.

 

Modes of Writing/Examples

  • Informational/Expository Writing:
    • Informational brochures/articles
    • Newspaper articles
    • Research summaries
    • Textbooks
    • Non-fiction trade books and picture books
    • How-to manuals
    • Cookbooks

 

  • Persuasive Writing:
    • Book or film review
    • Restaurant reviews
    • Editorial articles
    • Political position papers
    • Advertisements and commercials

 

  • Narrative Writing (meant to entertain):
    • Trade books and picture books
    • Novels
    • Plays
    • Diaries

 

  • Descriptive Writing:
    • Menus
    • Catalogs
    • Travel brochures
    • Some poetry
    • Technical manuals

 

  • Technical Writing:
    • Equipment assembly instructions
    • Equipment maintenance manuals
    • Specialised textbooks and journal articles
    • Research summaries
    • Legal contracts

 

TONE: THE ATTITUDE OF AN AUTHOR

The difficult but subtle task of a good reader is to identify the tone or attitude revealed by an author in a piece of writing. Any human emotion may become the author’s tone.

Gestures, voice inflections, pauses, facial movement, even the sparkle of his eye can reveal a speaker’s attitude toward his subject. However, an author’s attitude or tone has to be inferred from less obvious clues. To avoid inaccurate interpretations, you, as a reader, must heed whether the author is serious, humorous, witty, ironic, patriotic, sentimental, defensive, moralising, compassionate, pessimistic, cynical, nostalgic, satirical, critical, horrifying, or rejoicing in his attitude toward his subject. Remember, an author may colour his ideas with these or any other emotions.

The perceptive reader recognises these attitudes or tones by identifying the subject, the length and flow of the sentences, the atmosphere, the work connotations, the point of view and purpose of the author. In an effective piece, the author creatively and thoughtfully blends many elements together to unify and focus an overall tone which reflects his attitude. Some explanations and examples follow.

  • NOSTALGIC TONE. Reveals a kind of homesickness for the past, a desire to return to “the good ole days.” The following statement reflects nostalgia: “Oh, for the halcyon days of our childhood when there was time for playing family games, reading good books, enjoying dinner conversation; we knew each other; we shared our joys and disappointments–no boob tube then,” the mother reminisced.
  • SENTIMENTAL TONE. Identifies that which is affectedly or extravagantly emotional instead of rational; it may also reveal romantic feelings. A good example is the paragraph which follows: Jim and Mary Smith had looked forward to the trip for months. They were returning to a city they had fallen in love with during the five years it was their home over a decade ago. So many memories were rooted in those years when they lived near Washington D.C. They had bought their first house while they lived in a nearby suburb. Their two sons had begun school during those years, and Jim and Mary had established many close friendships. Above all, they had become caught up in the excitement of living in the nation’s capital, with its continual political intrigue and constant awareness of international affairs. Indeed, they were more than eager to return, see friends, and visit the beautiful city they loved.
  • MORALISING TONE. Attempts to explain or interpret good or bad features of something. It is explicitly and clearly trying to reform. There is no subtlety involved. An example of moralising is the following statement: “Well, if you want to live like a yuppie, you better study hard and complete your education. That piece of parchment is the bottom rung of the yuppie ladder!”
  • CYNICAL TONE. Reveals a sense of helplessness and hopelessness toward life–a feeling that nothing really can be changed, that evil will prevail, that man is basically selfish, incapable of being reformed. As an example of cynicism, consider the following statement made by a person of voting age. “Don’t talk to me about voting or politics. I’m not interested. All politicians are self-serving and corrupt. My vote won’t change a thing.”

2.4 Techniques, Language Structures & Features

Sentence Variety

Sentence variety means using a variety of sentences…not just the same tone and flow of words repeatedly. A good variety of sentences in literature has a broad vocabulary and a healthy mix of sentence structure and grammar. You can tell how well the sentence variety is implemented just by reading literature…if you get bored quickly; it probably has bad variety- the same words, the same structure, the same flow, etc. On the contrary, if you’re reading something interesting, it has good sentence variety- it’s full of action verbs, a mix of sentence phrasing as well as grammar use, etc.

Adding sentence variety to your writing will do three things: enhance the flow of ideas, intensify points, and sustain the interest of your reader. Varying the length, rhythm and structure of sentences are three ways to create variety and interest in your writing.

 

Short Sentences

Short sentences present one idea clearly, but too many of them in succession can make writing seem awkward and simplistic. However, a few well-placed short sentences can add emphasis. Example: Our senator maintains two elaborate houses, one in our state and one in Washington. Although I understand the reasons for having two homes, owning two $300,000 residences seems needlessly extravagant. In short, I disapprove.

Remember, if you have a series of short, repetitive sentences, you can connect sentences together with conjunctions or semicolons. Example: He came; he saw; he conquered.

 

Medium Sentences

Medium-length sentences allow space to connect ideas and add details, while remaining clear and easy to read. Medium-length sentences are the most versatile and should form the core of your writing. Example: Although I enjoy televised boxing, I am often dissatisfied with network commentaries. All too often sportscasters’ comments are superficial, pointing out the obvious—like who is winning—rather than helping me to understand the sport.

Long Sentences

Long sentences establish complex interrelationships and include substantial amounts of amplification and clarification. Use them sparingly to emphasise relationships and to incorporate significant details. Example: For over a century, the Statue of Liberty, in all its majesty, has stood at the entrance to New York Harbor, welcoming immigrants, travelers, and returning Americans and symbolising the freedoms we value.

 

Diction / Choice of words

Writing is a series of choices. As you work on a paper, you choose your topic, your approach, your sources, and your thesis; when it’s time to write, you have to choose the words you will use to express your ideas and decide how you will arrange those words into sentences and paragraphs.

As you revise your draft, you make more choices. You might ask yourself, “Is this really what I mean?” or “Will readers understand this?” or “Does this sound good?” Finding words that capture your meaning and convey that meaning to your readers is challenging.

When you choose words to express your ideas, you have to think not only about what makes sense and sounds best to you, but what will make sense and sound best to your readers. Thinking about your audience and their expectations will help you make decisions about word choice. Be careful when using words you are unfamiliar with. Look at how they are used in context and check their dictionary definitions.

Be careful when using the thesaurus. Each word listed as a synonym for the word you’re looking up may have its own unique connotations or shades of meaning. Use a dictionary to be sure the synonym you are considering really fits what you are trying to say.

Don’t try to impress your reader or sound unduly authoritative.

 

Punctuation

Punctuation marks are symbols that are used in sentences and texts to make the meaning clearer.

Brackets:    (  )   [  ]   {  }   < >

Brackets are used in pairs. They separate meaningful elements in texts and sentences.
We usually distinguish four types of brackets:

  • Round Brackets (  )
  • Square Brackets  [  ]
  • Curly Brackets {  }
  • Angle Brackets < >

 

 

Dashes     –   –   —   ~

Four types:

Hyphen  Hyphens join words and parts of words.

En dash (half the width of the em dash ) En dashes join words and parts of words.

Em dash   Em dashes separate parts of sentences.

Swung dash ~ Swung dashes separate inexact or inaccurate quantities, approximates, and alternatives.

 

Ellipsis    

Ellipses indicate pauses, omission of words and unfinished thoughts.

 

Semicolon   ;

Semicolons separate similar sentences and groups of words.

 

Slash   /

Slashes separate similar words and phrases; extensively used in computing and mathematics.

 

Question Mark    ?

Use at the end of question sentence.

 

Exclamation Mark    !

Exclamation marks express strong emotions.

 

Full Stop    .

Used at the end of a sentence.

 

Colon    :

Colons are used between numbers and after words that give examples or explanations.

 

Comma    ,

Commas separate ideas; they are also used in many other cases.

 

Quotation Marks    ‘ ’, “ ”

Quotation marks are basically used to begin and to end quotations.

 

Apostrophe    ’

Apostrophe indicates possessive case, omission of letters, the plurals of numbers, and abbreviations; it also separates letters from words.

 

Figurative language

Words are very important because they allow us to express ourselves. Knowing and understanding different parts of figurative language will help you tremendously throughout life.

Using the correct words will let you get your point across. Let’s examine some of the more useful elements of figurative language. Below is a list of common types of figurative language with examples.

 

Metaphor

A metaphor is a part of speech that is expressed by comparing two things, saying that one was or is the other. It’s a comparison of two things that does not use as or like. It is effective because of the direct way that it communicates a message.

An example of a metaphor is: That essay was a breeze.

 

Simile

A simile is also a good way to compare two things. They are similar to metaphors, but instead of using was or is, you would use like or as.

An example of a simile is: His nose leaked like the kitchen faucet.

 

Hyperbole

A hyperbole is an element of writing that allows you to exaggerate. Sometimes it is used with a comical intention.

An example of a hyperbole is: I have told you a million times.

 

Personification

Personification, simply put, allows you to apply inanimate objects and abstract ideas with person-like features or actions.

An example of a hyperbole is: The year raced by me in a blur.

 

Alliteration

Alliteration is a literary style that utilises the same letter or sound in a row or string of words.

An example of alliteration is: Ralph’s reindeer rose rapidly and ran around the room.

 

Cliché

A cliché refers to an overly used expression that has lost meaning and impact over time. These are common expressions that you hear frequently.  An example of a cliché is: What goes around comes around.

 

Idiom

An idiom is a phrase that means something different than its literal meaning.

An example of an idiom is: The phrase, “Throw in the towel”, doesn’t actually mean that you have to throw in a towel, it just means that you are giving up.

 

Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia is a word that describes sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.

An example of onomatopoeia is: The tick-tock of the clock kept me up all night.

These are some of the common examples of figurative language. The English language can be tricky, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a lot of fun.

 

Jargon / Technical terms / Slang

One current or modern definition of jargon is “an outlandish, technical language of a particular profession, group, or trade.”

Another meaning is “unintelligible writing or talk.”

Yet another definition is “specific dialects resulting from a mixture of several languages.”

 

What is Slang?

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, slang is defined as “An informal vocabulary composed of invented words, arbitrarily changed words, or extravagant figures of speech.” Slang is a compilation of words that have been labelled as “unruly, unrefined, and illogical.”

Examples of Slang and Jargon:

A word can be both slang and jargon as is seen in the use of the word “say.”  The word “say” is not slang unless it is used at the beginning of a sentence as in “tell me.”  For example, the following uses of the word “say” are considered slang:

“Say, how much does that cost?”

“Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light.”

Jargon, on the other hand, is “technical talk.”

Who Uses Jargon?

 

Jargon is commonly used by groups that have a similar interest, like trades and/or professions. However, it can be used by people involved in sports or other casual groups. Most people associate jargon with the medical or law professions rather than everyday conversations. People may use jargon to leave an impression of intelligence or to confuse a person.

 

Humour

Humour is the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement. People of all ages and cultures respond to humour. The majority of people are able to experience humour, i.e., to be amused, to laugh or smile at something funny, and thus they are considered to have a sense of humour. Humour can be verbal, visual, or physical. Nonverbal forms of communication – for example, music or art – can also be humorous.

An object or a person can become funny in three different ways. They are:

  • By behaving in an unusual way
  • By being in an unusual place
  • By being the wrong size

 

Bias and stereotyping

Biases are the opinions or beliefs that affect a person’s ability to make a particular, objective and fair judgment or decision. In short, bias is personal opinion to a particular thing.

Stereotypes are oversimplified opinions that do not account for individual differences.

 

Grammar

The study of how words and their component parts combine to form sentences. The study of structural relationships in language or in a language, sometimes including pronunciation, meaning, and linguistic history.

2.5 Promotion / Support Of A Cause

Be it breast cancer or causes like “No Plastic”, or even “Fur is not fabric”; whichever campaign you support, using promotional products to spread awareness might just help you spread it faster and better!! Here are some simple ways with which you can effectively use promotional items to spread your concern and cause:

 

Target Audience: Try to figure out the kind of promotional product your target audience might like. Research suggests that if you give away a promo item that interests the recipients, they are most likely to keep it for longer and spread your cause better. For instance, if you support the cause of “reduce fur clothes usage”, your target audience is most likely to be upper class working professionals who use this fur jackets in winters. Besides, a promotional item will also increase the brand perception

 

Promotion:  The act of furthering the growth or development of something. Activities to prompt or entice customers especially through: advertising, publicity, or discounting

 

Key Factors to Consider

  • Promotion strategy should be developed to:
    • Reach your target market
    • Meet your goals and objectives
  • Reach Your Target Market
  • Clearly define and understand your target audience
  • Get in the customer state of mind
  • How does this audience make purchasing decisions?
  • What methods would be most effective in reaching this target audience?
  • Consider these groups when developing promotions
    • Influencer – a person’s whose view or advice influences the buying decision
    • Buyer – a person who makes the purchase transaction
    • User – a person who uses the product/service Word-of-Mouth
  • Publicity
  • Sampling
  • Discounting

 

Advertising Ways to Gain Positive Publicity

  • Write an article
  • Contact local TV and radio stations and offer to be interviewed
  • Publish a newsletter
  • Speak at local functions
  • Offer or sponsor a seminar
  • Write news releases and fax them to the media
  • Volunteer
  • Sponsor a community project or support a nonprofit organisation or charity
  • Promote a cause

3 Response To Texts

The basic process of communication begins when a fact or idea is observed by one person. That person (the sender) may decide to translate the observation into a message, and then transmit the message through some communication medium to another person (the receiver). The receiver then must interpret the message and provide feedback to the sender indicating that the message has been understood and appropriate action taken.

As Herta A. Murphy and Herbert W. Hildebrandt observed in Effective Business Communications, good communication should be complete, concise, clear, concrete, correct, considerate, and courteous.

More specifically, this means that communication should: answer basic questions like who, what, when, where; be relevant and not overly wordy; focus on the receiver and his or her interests; use specific facts and figures and active verbs; use a conversational tone for readability; include examples and visual aids when needed; be tactful and good natured; and be accurate and non-discriminatory.

Unclear, inaccurate, or inconsiderate business communication can waste valuable time, alienate employees or customers, and destroy goodwill toward management or the overall business.

 

1.6.1      Advantages and Disadvantages of Written Communication

Written communication has great significance in today’s business world. It is an innovative activity of the mind. Effective written communication is essential for preparing worthy promotional materials for business development. Speech came before writing. But writing is more unique and formal than speech. Effective writing involves careful choice of words, their organisation in correct order in sentences formation as well as cohesive composition of sentences. Also, writing is more valid and reliable than speech. But while speech is spontaneous, writing causes delay and takes time as feedback is not immediate.

 

1.       Advantages of Written Communication
  • Written communication helps in laying down apparent principles, policies and rules for running of an organisation.
  • It is a permanent means of communication. Thus, it is useful where record maintenance is required.
  • It assists in proper delegation of responsibilities. While in case of oral communication, it is impossible to fix and delegate responsibilities on the grounds of speech as it can be taken back by the speaker or he may refuse to acknowledge.
  • Written communication is more precise and explicit.
  • Effective written communication develops and enhances an organisation’s image.
  • It provides ready records and references.
  • Legal defences can depend upon written communication as it provides valid records.

 

2.       Disadvantages of Written Communication
  • Written communication does not save upon the costs. It costs huge in terms of stationery and the manpower employed in writing/typing and delivering letters.
  • Also, if the receivers of the written message are separated by distance and if they need to clear their doubts, the response is not spontaneous.
  • Written communication is time-consuming as the feedback is not immediate. The encoding and sending of message takes time.
  • Effective written communication requires great skills and competencies in language and vocabulary use. Poor writing skills and quality have a negative impact on organisation’s reputation.
  • Too much paper work and e-mails burden is involved

3.2 Instructions & Requests

Instructions

Poorly written instructions can cost businesses time, money, and customers.  The following guidelines will help you write well-organised, clear-cut instructions:

  • Organise the information

Make sure that the information is in a logical order and flows easily from step to step.  Use bullet points and numbers to mark each step.

 

  • Be direct

Focus on what the reader must do to complete the activity and on the information you must provide to ensure that they will be successful.  This will help you to only include information that is directly related to the instructions.

 

  • Do not omit steps

To ensure that instructions are complete, include every step of the activity along with supporting information such as definitions, standards, explanations, and examples.

Having an understanding of your audience will help you determine how much information to include. For instance, instructions about how to conduct Internet research would be written differently for people who have never used a computer than for those who have.

 

  • Be exact

Provide all of the relevant information.  For instance, if the instructions call for using specific tools, measurements, wording, or other items list this information in detail.

 

  • Keep it simple

Use short sentences because long, wordy sentences can make instructions confusing.

 

  • Take your time

Once you have written the instructions, take the time to review them.  Place yourself in the shoes of the reader and follow the instructions.  It is also helpful to ask someone else to follow your instructions to determine if they are complete.  Testing the instructions will help you identify and eliminate inconsistencies, vague information, or irrelevant information.

 

Request

Typically, you would write a Request Letter when you wanted to ask for one of the following:

  • a job interview
  • a raise or promotion
  • a specific type of information
  • a third party to compose a letter on your behalf

 

Request for an Interview (This is the most common type of Request Letter)

Use a formal letter style such as block or semi-block format. These styles begin with the date, followed by the name and address of the person to whom you are writing, a reference line, the salutation, the body, and the complimentary close. Compose and print your letter on a computer, using bright white inkjet paper.

Introduce yourself. Explain that you are writing to arrange an interview so that you could have the opportunity to discuss positions that may become available in a specific department of the company. If someone referred you, be sure to include his/her name.

Briefly describe your background and why you are interested in the employer’s industry, career field, or organisation.

Indicate that you will follow up with a phone call to see if it will be possible to schedule an interview at a convenient time so that you may bring your résumé and discuss your qualifications.

Close the letter professionally. For example: “Sincerely,” followed by your name. Your letter should have clear contact information, including your complete address, telephone number, and e-mail address.

 

Other things to keep in mind:

Do not enclose a résumé—you are just asking for an interview. If someone referred you, ask him/her beforehand about the best approach for asking for the interview.