English Communication Unit 3 Reading and Undertaking

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English Communication Unit 3 Reading and Undertaking

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English Communication Unit 3 Reading and Undertaking Notes cover all the exercise questions in UGC Syllabus. The English Communication Unit 3 Reading and Undertaking provided here ensures a smooth and easy understanding of all the concepts. Understand the concepts behind every Unit and score well in the board exams.

Reading and Undertaking


  • Close Reading: Comprehension
  • Summary: Paraphrasing
  • Analysis and Interpretation
  • Translation (from Indian Language to English and vice-Versa) Literary/Knowledge Texts)

1. How many points should it take to write a summary ?

Ans: A summary is a brief account of the main ideas of a work.

The length of your summary depends upon the work you are summarising and how many main ideas the piece has. You want to keep a summary short and not just rewrite the piece but find the main ideas of the piece and then rewrite them being careful not to plagiarise. A rule of thumb is that each paragraph can have a new main idea, depending on if you are summarising an article, essay, or textbook. A piece of literature may have less and instead have main ideas suggested by the author’s themes and messages for the whole work.

To effectively summarise, I suggest you do the following:

(i) Read the article underlining or writing down the main ideas presented in it. If it’s non-fiction, follow the one idea per paragraph rule although it may not be structured exactly that way.

(ii) Take that outline and put the main ideas in your own words making sure you include some signal words or phrase like, “The article also state… “or “Another main idea of the article is…

(iii) Make sure you include the title of the work and the author at the beginning of your summary.

(iv) Don’t present your own personal opinion since a summary is just a writing that outlines another work’s main ideas.

(v) Make sure you cite your source correctly if asked to include a bibliography.

(vi) I tell my students that a summary should be one-fourth to one-third the length of the original work. Keep your summary short and sweet, but remember to summarise the entire work. You can also combine ideas with the use of sentence variety.

2. What is the way to format and write a summary?

Ans: Writing a summary is really not all that difficult to do. You might be writing a summary of a chapter or an entire literary text, or you might be writing a summary of an entire non-fiction work or an article. No matter what, the steps are basically the same.

You cannot write an effective summary of an anything without actively reading it. By active reading, I mean reading with a highlighter, sticky notes, or a pencil and paper to write on. Take notes as you read, looking for the author’s main idea and supporting evidence for a non-fiction work and for the setting, characters, and plot in a fictional text. You are likely to have to read the work more than once to do this well. For a very long text, I would organise this perhaps one section or chapter at a time. These are the essence of a summary.

As you write your summary, it is vital that you name the text you are summarising and the name of the author in the very first paragraph, your introduction, so the reader know what it is you are summarising. It is not good, for example, to begin with “In this article, the author says… “The reader does not know what article you are writing about! If you are expected to use APA style, you also will need to provide the year of publication, like this:

“How to Effectively Write a Summary, “by John Doe (2011) consists of ten steps.

For MLA style, you do not need a year of publication.

Your introductory paragraph should also include a thesis statement, but this thesis statement needs to be a bit different from the kind you would ordinarily use. In most essay writing, a thesis statement is meant to state our main idea and supporting points on a subject, but for a summary, the thesis statement should state the author’s main idea and supporting points. A summary is not meant to share your thoughts on the text, just what the text consists of. This is a significant difference between a summary and a literary analysis. So, for a summary of a non-fiction work, you might have a thesis statement like this:

Smith’s article argues that amnesty should be provided for undocumented aliens because it will help our economy and free up our law enforcement resources.

For a literary work, you might have a thesis statement like this:

The Chrysalids is a dystopian novel that takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, where some nuclear event has created mutations that place mutated and non-mutated created mutations that place mutated and non-mutated characters in conflict, the non-mutated having created a theology of “normalcy” that creates a society of outcasts.

This states the basic setting, characters, and conflict of the story, and I can use this thesis statement as my outline to summarise in my body paragraphs.

Now, even though I have summarised the book in just one sentence, that is not quite enough for a summary. You are expected to write more than that! Ht you must do is distil the entire text, so that you can summarise each of the elements in perhaps three to five sentences. You must be sure not to get bogged down in too many details. For example, it is not so important to describe what each character looks like. And it is not so important to describe every element of the setting. You can name the main characters, for example, in a sentence or two, and explain what role each has in the story. One might be the hero of the story and another might be the villain. There might be one important element in the setting, for example, that it is very cold or very barren, an important element in how the characters behave. But the idea is to just select the most important element to describe the setting, characters, and plot.

For a summary of The Chrysalids, using the thesis statement I have above, I would have one body paragraph on setting, one body paragraph on characters, and a third body paragraph on the conflict and resolution. Each of these can be explained in five or fewer sentences.

For a non-fiction text, using the sample thesis statement from above, I would have two body paragraphs, again, each five or fewer sentences. One would be about the economic argument and the other word would be about law enforcement resources. For each, I would summarise the evidence the author uses to support his main idea.

Finally, a concluding paragraph should remind the reader what the author’s main idea is and what support he or she used for that idea or how the literary text carried out the author’s ideas.

As you write a summary, you must also be sure to frame it so the reader understands that these are the author’s ideas, not yours. This is especially important for non-fiction texts. You cannot make an assertion that will confuse the reader, for example, saying, “Undocumented immigrants should be given amnesty. “You have to say something like “Smith argues that undocumented immigrants should be given amnesty. Each time you present an idea or information from the author, it must be clear that it is the author’s ideas and information that are being presented.

It really is not difficult to write a summary, and doing so gives you power in your knowledge and understanding of what you have read. It forces you to read carefully closely, and actively, which is the best way to read.

3. How should I begin writing a summary, from the first person or from the third ?

Ans: If you are writing a summary about something that you’ve read, a teacher will almost ALWAYS want that summary to be objective and third person, meaning that you (and your opinion and experiences) have nothing to do with what you’re writing about.

Let’s say I was writing a summary of the story of “The Three Little Pigs.” (You know, the fairy tale/nursery rhyme where the Big Bad Wolf comes and huffs, and puffs, etc.)?

I would write something like, “The story tells the tale of three pigs who each choose to build their homes out of something different. The first pig builds a house of straw, the second a house of wood, and the third a house of brick. When a ‘big bad wolf’ comes and threatens that he’ll blow the pigs’ houses down, only the house of the little pig with the house of bricks withstand the threat.”

Do you see how the above summary doesn’t involve the first person? It is simply a shorter retelling of the main points of the story. I hope that helps you!

4. Does a summary have a topic name ?

Ans : Writing a summary is a useful skill for a variety of organisational reasons. Summarising helps with organising the writing process, with organising thoughts into notes and with organising reading. As such, determining the purpose for which the summary is needed will help to decide whether or not the summary needs a topic name. Writing effective summaries with appropriate titles lays the groundwork for organising more complex levels of academic writing.

When a brief summary is used to organise the writing process for a larger work, give the summary a topic name that corresponds with the topic of the paper and relevant research. For example, in a paper about trends in 21st century literature, it is unlikely that the paper will cover every single aspect of that topic. As such, the summary and the title of the summary should identify only the key aspects that are relevant to one specific aspect of the broad topic, say, women’s writing. As such, a title for such a summary might read: “A Summary of Two Key Trends in 21st Century Women’s Novels.”

In contrast, when a summary organises thoughts or reading, it is probably because either the summary is meant as the end goal or ones too early in the writing process to have narrowed down a research topic sufficient for a larger piece of writing. Such a summary might be utilised as a personal reference or, perhaps, for the reference of a study group. As such, a summary should have a topic name only to the extent that it is useful for keeping thoughts or reading organised as notes. A few keywords might only be necessary as a title. Again, given the example of the topic of 21st century women’s writing, a brief title of a summary might read: “Summary of 21st Century Women’s Novel’s or even just “21st C (short for century) Women’s Literary Fiction.”

Whether the summary is utilised to organise a large paper or for taking notes, writing an effective summary and title lays the groundwork for other short pieces of academic writing, such as abstracts. In general, an abstract is a type of summary of scholarly writing, and the title of an abstract corresponds to the title of the paper. Best wishes!

5. How do you write the perfect summary ?

Ans: The main challenge in writing “the perfect summary” lies in the natural inclination to explain and expand on the important points in an author’s text that by themselves constitute a summary. By definition, a summary is a brief description of the contents of an article, book, monograph, etc. that is it. Who is the author, what is the title of the work being summarised, what was the date of publication (if relevant), what was the period during which the work was written (if known and relevant), what are the main points the author is making, and what is his or her conclusion. If the subject material is a novel, a brief description of the content of each chapter may be warranted. A student assigned to summarise a nonfiction academic study will generally not need to summarise each chapter, but rather would focus on the overall theme of the study, its main points, and its conclusion(s).

The natural inclination to explain and expand upon main points raised by the author whose work is being summarised is, as noted, the pitfall to be avoided. It is more difficult than it may seem to resist the temptation to weigh down a summary with extraneous details, but “the perfect summary” demands that such details be excluded. This is equally true of summaries a student prepares for his or her own research papers or creative writing projects. In research papers, a summary usually precedes all other text, including the table of contents and introductory chapter or section. Government papers or those produced for corporate use usually label that opening description of the report’s contents the “Executive Summary,” denoting its purpose of providing a brief synopsis of the much heftier paper that follows. The higher one ascends on the corporate ladder or in most other organisational structures, the less time one usually has to read lengthy reports. The executive Summary, then, has to be perfect; it has to include the thesis or theme, the main points discussed in the following text, and the conclusions and, when relevant, recommendations for future action.

The links below provide further information on how to write a summary, including the eNotes study guide “How to Write a summary.” Also provided is a link to a randomly-selected report prepared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that is included for the purpose of displaying an example of how a paper is structured, including the placement and style used in the Executive Summary.

6. How do I write a summary of a piece of literature ?

Ans: When summarising a piece of literature it is best to start with 

(1) a paragraph on the mise-en-scene-where and when in space and time the piece takes place. 

(2) Then address the main characters –  the protagonist first. 

(3) Then state what the conflict is, what moves the plot forward. 

(4) Give some but not too many details of the highlights of the plot – where impediments stop the protagonist as he/she struggles with the conflict. If the summary is long enough.

(5) finish with a short paragraph on the “meaning” or “lesson” built into the action. 

(6) In many cases, you can finish with a broad statement about the importance of the philosophical point of view this piece represents. 

Example: Moby Dick takes place in the 19th century world of the New England whaling industry. The trials of Captain Ahab as built around his obsession with killing Moby Dick. First, he must gather a crew (including the narrator, Ishmael); then he must locate the whale. When he does, the whale proves indomitable, and Ahab is caught in his own lines. The story’s importance in American literature cannot be exaggerated. The symbolic overtones of Man’s will against God’s makes the story a perfect example of American saga realism. As a statement of belief in forces larger than ourselves, it is a classic. (This is just a quick example of the steps toward a successful summary.)

7. What are five facts or points to bear in mind about summary writing ?

Ans: I am not sure if you are asking about writing summaries of literary texts or about writing summaries of articles. There are certainly at least five points that can be made about either, and I am going to address some points that are true for both, and some points that are true for each individually.

First, whether you are summarising a literary text or an article, your summary should be quite brief. One page is about the most a summary should be, no matter what, and if it is possible to summarise more briefly, that is fine, too.

Second, you must provide in your summary the title of what you are summarising, along with the name of the author. If you are summarising an article, name the article. If you are summarising a book, name the book. If you are summarising a short, name the story. Even if you are writing a summary as an assignment for class and your teacher knows very well what you are summarising, you should imagine you have an audience that does not know.

For a literary text, here are some of the points you want to bear in mind:

1. You should always state what the setting is of the story. This means letting your reader know where the story takes place and when the story takes place. For example, the Great Gatsby takes place in New York in the Roaring Twenties.

2. You should always name the major characters in the story. Sometimes a story has many characters, and it is impossible to mention all of them. For example, The Goldfinch is filled with many characters, probably too many for you to mention. But once you have read a book, you can name the protagonist, the antagonist, a love interest, and any other characters that are central to the plot.

3. You should briefly describe the plot of the story, ideally in five or fewer sentences. This is often the most difficult part for people who are learning to write summaries, but it can be done! I might say this about The Goldfinch, which is nearly 800 pages in length:

Theo loses his mother in a bombing in a museum, encounters a dying man and Pippa, who becomes hiss obsessive love, steals a painting from the museum, and spends the rest of the story either hiding the painting or trying to rescue the painting. Along the way, he encounters characters both good and evil, who teach him valuable lessons about life and morality, which allows him to finally mature.

Remember, a summary needs to be brief!

4. A summary should include some discussion of the theme or themes in the story. Is this a story about coming of age? Is this a story about man versus nature? Is this a story about the American Dream? Whatever themes are present in the literary text, you need to mention these.

5. A summary should include a brief discussion of any other literary elements that you note in the story, for example, symbols, imagery, the author’s tone or the point of view of the narrator. These are all aspects of literary analysis that can and should be part of a summary, albeit briefly.

For a an article summary, your focus is going to be a bit different:

1. You must summarise the author’s main idea. In a properly written article, this will usually be in the form of a thesis statement. Perhaps you are summarising an editorial from the newspaper. What is the author’s position on his or her topic of choice? You must let your reader know.

2. You should summarise the author’s supporting points. Ideally, these will be part of the thesis statement, too, but not always. You may have to read the article carefully to find out what these are. In an editorial that supports amnesty for immigrants, for instance, the author might use statistics to support the points, might use logic to do so, or might provide anecdotal evidence, perhaps stories about immigrants he or she knows. In an article that is summarising research results, the support is going to be found in the research results in the article. Remember that is not a critical analysis, but a summary, so you are not expected to critique the support, just to summarise it.

3. It would be good to provide some information about the author of an article, such as an academic background or where the author works. This is more important in an article summary than it is a summary of a literary text.

4. In a summary of an article that is reporting on research, some details about the methodology and subjects of the research are very important. Who were the subjects? How many people were part of the study? Was there a control group? Was it a qualitative or quantitative study? Was it a longitudinal study? For a reader to get a good sense of the article, these are questions that must be answered.

5. In a summary of an article that involves technical terms or terms of art, it is important to explain these for your reader. If you are summarising an article on operant conditioning, do not expect the reader to know what this is. If you are summarising an editorial on TPP, which is the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Congress must approve, you owe it to your reader to explain what this is. Do not assume that your reader is going to be familiar with technical vocabulary, initials, or terms of art.

8. How do I start a summary ? I’m trying to write an article summary but I don’t know how to start.

Ans: If I were to write a summary myself, I would first make sure that I have a clear understanding of what the article is about. If you don’t understand your article, you’ll have no idea what to say. To start your summary, you need to write a thesis statement. This is generally the first sentence or the last sentence of your introductory paragraph. Once you have your introductory paragraph, you can follow the outline of the article, paragraph by paragraph, to summarise the important points made by the author of that paragraph.

To better understand the nature of the introductory paragraph, look at the one for Rick Reily’s article entitled, “Four of a Kind,” written only days after the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City.

The huge rugby player, the former high school football star and the onetime college baseball player were in first class, the former national judo champ was in coach. On the morning of sept. 11, at 32,000 feet, those four men teamed up to sacrifice their lives for those of perhaps thousands of others.

If you refer to the title, you won’t know what the article is about (until you have read the first paragraph). So read the introductory paragraph closely: for this is where Reilly gives you the most important information you need to best understand the article. (Read the entire article when you can: it’s awesome. See link below.)

First, he lists different kinds of athletes. The second piece of information sets this story on september 11, 2001. That is a huge piece of his introduction. Third, the athletes “teamed up” (this phrase is not an accident) to “sacrifice their lives” for maybe “thousands of others.” Wow! That’s pretty impressive stuff. And he told us all of this in TWO sentences. So if I were going to summarise the article, I would be looking at what he has told us in the first paragraph. He’s writing about athletes who potentially saved thousands of lives on 9-11 by giving up their own lives.

I would write something like:

When the word “athlete” is used, most people think of strong and healthy people who are really good at a sport. Hearing that four athletes were on a plane together would not surprise most people. When the reader learns that they saved lives and lost their own doing it, these athletes become more important than any sport they competed in. Finding that their actions took place on 9-11 tells the reader that they were heros in one of the worst disasters in American history.

This is the beginning of my summary. I have summarised what the author wrote about in his first paragraph. I have included the same information, but you will notice that I did not:

(i) use the word “I;”

(ii) use any of the phrases or sentences that Reilly used; or,

(iii) use the same words, making new sentences by mixing up his words.

Unless your teacher tells you it’s OK, do not use “I” or “we” (“us,” etc.). Write from the third-person point of view. The second two items mean that I have not plagiarised. If I use the same phrases or sentences, it is plagiarising. If I mix them up, it’s plagiarising. If i copy the structure of Mr. Reily’s sentences (the order the words are placed in, even using different words), it is plagiarism. To avoid this, know your story really well and write it as if you were telling someone the story rather than reading the article to him or her.

9. I am doing a science assessment. We have to find an article to do with biology and write a summary about it. How do I write a summary ?

Ans: Writing a summary of a nonfiction text in the subject content areas is an important skill to have. Once practised and mastered, it can be helpful not only for completing specific assignments but also as a study tool. There are several points to consider when writing a summary, but the points of length, organisation, and drafting are especially relevant.

First, determine a rough guideline for how long the summary should be. The length and complexity of the article chosen to summarise might provide some guidance. For example, a long, complex article may require a longer summary than a brief, simple one may justify. Writing only one good paragraph is far different from writing a 5-paragraph response, which is a common structure. Yet, a short summary of about 1-2 paragraphs should strive for more than a generic list of points. Rather, it should include the main points of the article and relative supporting details. A great rule of thumb might be to discuss one point per paragraph, supported with relevant details. As such, a 3-5 paragraph summary should provide more points and more details, and seek to analyse or draw simple conclusions about the materials discussed.

Second, determine a structure for the summary. A good, well thought out summary should do more than regurgitate the writing of the original author, yet not provide an in-depth analysis. For example, using a q-and-A style, discussing cause and effect, or localising the specific work relative to similar works are all interesting approaches to summaries that engage the text beyond a simple rewrite of what the author has already adequately stated. Try to think of a reaction as a reader, and use those reactions to organise thoughts as a writer without directly starting personal opinions. For example, determine and rank order thoughts about the relevance or even irrelevance of the points discussed in the article, particularly regarding the general topic.

Last, consider writing several drafts before the work is finalised and turned in. even for a very brief summary, never shy away from the task of writing and rewriting, several times as necessary. Good luck !

10. How does fluency impact reading comprehension ? How does fluency impact reading comprehension ? Explain your answer.

Ans: Fluency definitely impacts reading comprehension. The essence of fluency is the ability to recognize words and understand them. So that when someone is trying to comprehend something that is being read, being fluent in that language increases comprehension.

For example, if someone speaks/writes Spanish fluently, but only speaks/writes English moderately well, reading a book in Spanish will provide a more successful outcome that reading in English. Comprehension will slow down.

Leslie Pepper in “Does Fluency Affect Comprehension?” writes:

If children labour to decode words, then they do not have attention or mental resources left over to dedicate to comprehension and enjoyment, which means they are not really reading, only word calling.

The idea of “word calling” promotes a sense of reorganising the word, but not being able to string the words together so that understanding and comprehension take place. This is why when students say, “I read it, but I don’t understand it, “even though the reading is at their level, I suspect that reading is not truly taking place; only “word calling.”

11. How does prior knowledge impact reading comprehension ?

Ans: This is a great question. One of the great benefits of postmodernism is that it shows that there is no such thing as objective truth when it comes to reading texts. Not only are all people different, but each person’s interpretation can change through their experiences and prior knowledge.

In light of the above point, whatever a person knows will definitely change a person’s reading of a text. Perhaps an example will be helpful. If a person is reading Sophocles’s Oedipus’s Rex as a teenager, then he or she might be repulsed by Oedipus’s actions. Later on as a college student this person might read Oedipus Rex again but this time in a seminar knowing something about Greek tragedy and the historical context. This knowledge will certainly give another perspective.

And for the sake of argument, say this person reads the work again later in life, when there is an understanding of the brokenness of the world. This will give another perspective. All prior knowledge makes a huge difference when it comes to reading texts.

12. Listening Listening comprehension

Ans: Practice, practice, practice !

As other posts have pointed out, it would help to know the setting or type of information you are listening to as you’re trying to comprehend – it does make a difference. You need to be actively involved in responding (silently) while you are listening in order to help the comprehension take place. I tried to organise my class presentations in a manner that would lend itself to the creation of outlines. Can you identify main points and supporting information as you are hearing it, that is showing comprehension! If you can’t pick out those important pieces, that might be a skill to try to develop. Ask your instructor for suggestions about how to interpret the material you are hearing so you can isolate the parts you really need to know.

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