Englisch 11

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Basic Skills

1. Questions on the Text

The phrases in bold letters can serve as a checklist:


Questions:

  • Read the question(s)!
  • Does the question relate to only a certain (given) passage of the text?
  • Mark keywords in question, look up unclear words!
  • What is asked? What are you looking for? Decide what information you need before you read the text again (e.g. do you look for reasons, stylistic devices, facts/quotes that help to write a characterization?)


Reading/Marking Mark / collect passages that help to answer your questions

  • Read the text one section/paragraph at a time to maximize your concentration.
  • Stop at the end of the section/paragraph. Ask yourself: “What is important – what helps to answer the question?”
  • Mark the phrases that help to compose your answer AFTER reading a paragraph and before moving on.
  • Annotate by writing e.g. the number of the question or a short tag on the margin of the text. You may write out key words/phrases of your answer in your own words in English!


Writing

  • Structure your material (related ideas/arguments, order of importance ...)
  • Tense used in the question ==> Correct Tense of your answer?
  • Have you got a good introductory sentence?
    • It states what question you answer/refers to the question
    • It gives the reader a basic idea of the structure/direction your answer takes. (Question: What problems does the author see for big cities? - Your introduction: The author believes that big cities have two main problems related to traffic and housing.)
  • Do not copy entire passages from the text (Unless you have to quote, but this is rare)

Check

  • Answer includes: introductory sentence ==> parts of answer (1 paragraph each; do you have to give lines/quotes?), incl. explanations [==> conclusion]?
  • Are your paragraphs linked well ==> is the line of argument/order o.k.?
  • Does the answer really answer the question?
  • Do you keep the promises made in the introduction? (e.g "There many reasons ..." ==> Do you give at least three?)


2. Writing Paragraphs

A paragraph ...

  • ... is the basic unit of your written answers
  • ... a section of the text that usually expresses ONE idea
  • ideally it has a clear structure:

Structure of a paragraph:

1. thesis/introduction (topic sentence)
2. supporting point, reason for validity of thesis
3. example
4. conclusion

E.g.

  1. You shouldn't fully trust your first visual positive impression of a person.
  2. It is not a good idea, because first impressions can turn out to be wrong and what somebody looks like does neither tell you who they really are nor how they will behave or if they are reliable.
  3. For example a person that has just been to the hairdresser, has rented a very nice outfit, put a lot of effort into their makeup and has learned to smile amiably may be a fantastic actor or actress - but still could be the most unreliable friend, most inconstant partner or worst parent in the world.
  4. So you simply need to be a bit more careful and allow yourself some time to find out what this person acts like when there is no reward for being nice or helpful or when they are tired and stressed out. This will give you a true idea of their character - not their fantastic first impression.


Starting a paragraph with a topic sentence

A standard paragraph starts with a topic sentece, which ...

  • is usually a rather general statement
  • has a direct, clear message (choose verb accordingly!)
  • signals the kind of paragraph that will follow (an explanation, a list of examples, a definition of the problem ...)
  • often asks or implies a question and promises an answer



Examples

Zum Sichtbarmachen der Lösungen einfach in der rechten Spalte mehrfach in das leere weiße Feld klicken!

Topic sentence The reader thinks/wants to know:
I am clearly against a speed limit for several reasons! What are these reasons?
There can only be three possible answers the British government may give. What are these answers? Why can there only be three?
The events of last week were a terrible blow for those who love their freedom. What happened? How is freedom endangered?
It seems unbelievable, but there is no way to save Tibet's cultural heritage. Why not? Why is it not possible?
We could easily save most of the children in refugee camps. So why has nobody even tried to do so? How could we save them? What are the reasons for not even trying to help them - especially if it is so easy?



Mediation



IRONY

  • verbal irony: express something by saying the opposite
⇒ effect: reader enjoys finding irony, discovers real meaning and contrast between what is said and what is meant

Oh thank you VERY MUCH for not inviting me to the party!


  • dramatic irony: the reader or the audience know more than the characters
⇒ effect 1: readers feel superior, because they know more, only to be soon shown they are not ⇒ readers are taught a lesson
⇒ effect 2: readers feel pity, find it hard to bear the tension and have to see the main character making fatal mistakes ... ⇒ involvement in story

In a play the characters listen to a man explaining enthusiastically that he will travel to the USA on board of an absolutely unsinkable ship - the Titanic!

  • irony of situation: sharp contrast between what the characters/readers wish/intend and what real life/the situation is like.

An example would be a man who takes a step aside in order to avoid getting sprinkled by a wet dog, and falls into a swimming pool."

(Lars Elleström, Divine Madness. Bucknell Univ. Press, 2002)


Line of argument/argumentative structure

  1. describe what the author does (e.g. he puts forward his main thesis, he asks a question, he creates a contrast, he gives examples ...)
  2. explain why he does it at this point ( ... in orfder to show/convince/underline/defend ..)
  3. show how he tries to do this effectively (rhetorical devices, argumentation ...)



STYLE

Style (formal vs. informal