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LANGUAGE STUDY GUIDE

READING
Answering comprehension questions.
When you are asked to explain what happens in a passage, it is your comprehension
(understanding) which is being tested. If you simply repeat the words of the passage, you are
not showing that you have understood its meaning, so that is why you must change as many
of the words as possible into your own words when you give an answer. Use synonyms where
you can. Sometimes comprehension is tested by asking you to select words from the passage
which show something specific. Then you may answer by quoting phrases from the passage,
using inverted commas to show your answer is a quotation.
Skimming and scanning
When you first read a passage which you know you will have to answer questions on, its a
good idea to skim it quickly to get a sense of what it is about, to grasp the gist of it. It is useful,
before getting down to details, to have a general understanding of the kind of writing it is, and
to be able to answer the questions Who? What? When? Where? Why? At this stage you also
need to notice which words you dont know the meaning of, so you can look them up in a
dictionary or try to infer its meaning from the context f the passage.
When you are clear about the content of the passage and the meaning of all the words, then
you are ready to look at the questions. The second time you read you should scan for the
information needed to answer the question, and underline the important ideas when you find
them. Remember that not the questions asked will be explicitly stated in the text. Sometimes
you need to infer meaning such as when you are asked to identify the writers purpose in
writing a text.
Source Cambridge Checkpoint English Coursebook.
1. Read the text A rattling experience by Richard Grant and answer the questions using
your own words.

a- What happened when the writer heard the rattle of the snake, as described in
paragraph 1?
b- Why do rattlesnakes bite and what are the effects, as described in paragraph 3?
c- How did the writer capture the snake, as described in paragraph 5?

2. Read the passage below and carry out the activities that follow.

a- Skim read the text. Then write, in one sentence, a summary of the situation in the
passage.
b- Scan the passage, selecting the words and phrases that you think show how small
and vulnerable the child feels

FACT AND OPINION

*One important thing to consider when you are reading a piece of factual writing is
whether or not everything that looks like fact actually is a fact. Is it a fact that can
be proved or is the writer presenting an opinion in order to make his or her
argument sound more convincing?
For example:

In the 2010 soccer World Cup final, Spain beat the Netherlands by 1-0. This is a fact as
there is plenty of evidence (television recordings, newspaper reports, and so on) that
this is true.
The Spanish team that won the World Cup in 2010 is the greatest soccer team of all
time. This is an opinion as it is not possible to prove that this team was better than any
other that has ever played soccer.

3. Read the following statements taken from Checkpoint English 1. Decide whether each
one is fact or opinion. Write F (for fact) or O (for opinion) next to each statement.
a- Nelson Mandela was appointed President of south Africa on 10 May 1994.
b- The Amazon is the longest river in South America.
c- Basketball is the most exciting sport of all.
d- It is understood that eating an apple a day keeps you healthy.
e- Titanic won the best fil Oscar in 1997.
f- Leonardo di Caprio was undoubtedly the most satisfactory star performer in Titanic.
g- In time, scientist will be able to prove how the universe as formed.

h- Recess is what students enjoy the most at school.

TOPIC SENTENCES AND SUPPORTING DETAILS


A paragraph is a group of related sentences, which develop one main idea (the topic
sentence). The topic sentence tends to be a general rather than a specific idea. The main
idea of the topic sentence controls the rest of the paragraph. Usually it is the first sentence in
the paragraph, but not necessarily. It may come after a transition sentence; it may even come
at the end of a paragraph.
The supporting sentences in a paragraph develop the main idea expressed in the topic
sentence and provide the detail such as facts and examples. When the topic sentence comes
first, the supporting sentences answer the questions the reader will develop in their minds
after reading the topic sentence. In this case, the last sentence (concluding sentence) can
either return the reader to the topic at the beginning of the paragraph or act as a connection
to link the information with that coming up in the next paragraph. When the topic sentence
comes last, the supporting sentences build up arguments and examples to make a case for
the main idea contained at the end.
4. Identify and underline the topic sentence in each paragraph.
a- Adventure Tourism
Adventure tourism is a different way for tourists to see New Zealand. This type of
tourism uses the plentiful natural resources - mountains, rivers, lakes, wilderness areas
and historical sites to provide adventure, thrills and challenges which are low risk but
high in excitement. For example, the coastal areas in New Zealand are great for
canoeing and kayaking. White-water rafting is another popular water adventure
tour. However, if you would rather keep your feet on the ground, New Zealand has
over 100 developed walkways in addition to the tracks in the 12 National
Parks. Because more and more tourists are interested in learning about New Zealand
by doing exciting and unusual activities, adventure tourism will continue to grow.

b- Time Management
No matter how you slice it, there are only 24 hours in a day. To be successful at
university, students need to learn good time-management skills. The first skill is not
taking on more than you can handle. If you are a working part-time, have a family and
are involved in a community organisation, then taking a full course-load at university
will be too much. Another time management skill is reasonably estimating the time
required to perform each of the tasks at hand. For example, deeply reading a chapter
from a course text cannot be completed in between television programmes. Finally,
actually doing what needs to be done seems obvious, but is a very difficult skill. You
may find that cleaning out your wardrobe becomes vital when you are avoiding study.
Procrastination is a time manager's enemy. By learning time management skills your
university study will be successful and most importantly enjoyable.
cc-Have Heart
The heart weighs about 11 ounces and is the size of a clenched fist. The heart of a
man performs at about 60 to 80 beats a minute. In a year it beats some 40 million
times. At each beat it takes in nearly a quarter of a pint of blood; in a single day it
pumps 2,200 gallons of blood, and in the course of a single lifetime about 56 million
gallons. Is there any other engine capable of carrying on such heavy work over such a
long period of time without needing to be repaired? Obviously the human heart is a
small yet highly efficient piece of equipment.

5. Read the following paragraphs carefully. Then select the most appropriate topic
sentence for
each
of
the
paragraphs
from
the
choices
provided.
USEFUL TIP: The topic sentence is general and controls the paragraph. Think about
the type of questions the reader will develop in their minds as they read the topic
sentence.

1 Thousands of new people are born on our planet every day. The number of inhabitants in
the world has already reached over six billion. If the present growth rate remains
unchecked, the world may soon face wide-spread starvation, poverty, and serious health
problems. __________________________________ (topic sentence).
Therefore, it is predicted that the world will face serious health problems in the near
future.
The rapid growth of the world's human population is the most important problem the
world needs to address.
One of the burning issues is the population explosion in third world countries.

2
__________________________________ (topic sentence).
Arriving in the land below the Rio Grande River, the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortez
was surprised to see the local inhabitants raising crops that included avocados, corn, garlic
and nuts. Onions, tomatoes, chilli peppers and pumpkins were also grown in the rich soil.
Irrigation systems were employed in some of the drier regions. The Aztec farmers also were
skilful in creating terraced gardens to make the most of the rainfall and to minimise soil
erosion. Evidence shows that they employed crop rotation as well as natural fertilisers to
enhance the production of their farm products.
The Aztecs of Mexico were a nation of accomplished farmers.
Hernando Cortez discovered farming in Mexico.
Mexico is blessed with rich farmland and an abundance of food products.

SUMMARIZING
How to select summary points

Identify and underline the essential information needed to answer the question; do not
include anything irrelevant, and ignore minor details, repetitions and examples.
When you transfer the points to your own list or plan, change the phrases into your
own words where possible, and try to reduce the number of words being used.
Paraphrase figurative language to show that you have understood.

Selective summary
A selective summary asks you to identify and use only the parts of a text which are relevant
to the question and you must ignore the rest. First you should underline the question so that
when you highlight the relevant parts of the text you can stay focused on it. Once you have
found all the information, you should transfer the ideas from it in your own words as far as
possible. Write your summary including compound and complex sentences.
6. Read the article What is a refugee? on the next page and:
a- Write a selective summary on the reasons why some people dont want refugees in
their country. Write about 70 words. Remember to use your own words.
b- Write a summary on the advantages of accepting refugees. Write about 20 words.
Use your own words.
What is a Refugee?
A refugee, defined by the United Nations, is a person who is unable or unwilling to
return to their country because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on their
race, religion, nationality, political opinion or because they belong to a particular
social group.
Why Do They Come?
Most refugees flee their country to escape armed conflict. They often leave with their
families and apply for asylum in another country. Many of them do not want to leave
their own country, but have no choice. The journeys they undertake to reach a safe
place may be almost as risky as staying in their own country. They would do anything
to escape their suffering: crossing deserts, mountains, seas and rivers, sometimes
using dangerous means of transport. They also hide in parts of ships that are too
cramped, too hot and too smelly for anyone to check. Many never arrive.
World Refugee Day
On the 20th of June each year people celebrate World Refugee Day. An important
part of this celebration is the award given to a person or group who excels in helping
refugee causes.
To Help or Not To Help?
There are an estimated 14 million refugees and asylum seekers in the world. Some
countries in the world, especially the rich, are inflexible against allowing too many
refugees coming into their country. One worry is that there may be too many of them
seeking asylum therefore causing a great problem for these developed countries.
Their next worry is resources. These refugees may fill their hospitals, their schools,
take over their jobs as well as abusing their social welfare system. At the end of the
day, some fear there could be no more resources left for the people of these
developed nations.
Another worry is the thought that the refugees might not be genuine. Also, the fact
that the country they flee to is culturally different from their own makes the citizens
of these developed nations feel that their culture is being stolen from them.
Criminal activity seems to be a growing concern. People worry that asylum seekers
who arrive penniless and without any documents might be criminals or involved in
acts of terrorism. In many countries, new anti-terrorism laws have made migration
legislation much stricter. Increasingly, governments are locking asylum seekers in
detention centres regardless of their status. Unfortunately, this causes further
criminalisation as genuine asylum seekers resist what they see as injustice. However,
protests and riots lead to criminal charges and prison sentences.
These negative assumptions are not true. First of all, numbers indicate that Asia and
Africa have the worlds highest influx of refugees. Secondly, most rich or developed
countries economies rely on these refugees as they are the ones who are often more
than willing to do the kind of work that no one else would even think of. Furthermore,
the migrants tend to be very hardworking and highly motivated at their jobs and are
the backbone of agricultural labour. Thirdly, governments like to play with words such
as crime and 'immigration' to gain popularity with their citizens during elections.

Moreover, after all the problems a refugee has faced fleeing his own country, the last
thing he wants is to be mistrusted. Finally, it is absurd for the rich nations to claim
that their culture is being swamped by refugees, considering that the refugees are in
a minority there.
Perhaps politicians should remind themselves of the fact that, whether they are
dealing with genuine asylum seekers or economic migrants, they are dealing with
human beings, not numbers, and the people should be treated humanely.
by Claire Powell and Dave Collett

SENTENCE TYPES

A sentence is a grammatical unit made up of one or more words (Go! is a sentence, as


is The cat sat on the mat.). Sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a full stop, a
question mark or an exclamation point. s a simple sentence?
Sentences can be structured in different ways.

A simple sentence has a subject and ONLY ONE verb:

The girl sprinted after the tiger.


The cat purred.

A compound sentence is formed when you join two main clauses with a connective. In a
compound sentence the clauses are linked by coordinating conjunctions / connectives
(and, but, so, or).
I
like
bananas
and
I
like
grapes.
Zoe can be rude at times but she is a nice girl.

Complex sentences can also be referred to as multi-clause sentences.

A complex sentence is formed when you join a main clause and a subordinate clause with
a connective. A subordinate clause is one that relies on a main clause to make sense.
The connectives in complex sentences are subordinating conjunctions and they tell us about
the order or the place in which things happened or specify a cause or effect relationship
between events. Connectives used in complex sentences include after, although, as, because,
if, since, unless, when.
I
love
roast
potatoes,
although
my
mum
prefers
them
mashed.
You need to prepare for the spelling test tomorrow if you want to get all your spellings right.
The big dog barked whenever I knocked on the door.

Complex sentences can also be constructed by including relative clauses (which are
subordinate clauses), for example: Tom, who liked to read, settled down happily with his new
book.
7. Read the sentences and decide what type of sentence each one is. Then tick the correct
box.

8. Sentence combining. Combine the following sentences with a coordinating conjunction


(for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).
1) She went to work. She did not want to go.
2) The scientists trained him well. They helped him find a job when his training was through.
3) Polar bears are fierce, territorial animals. Grizzly bears are the same.
4) Mark told me not to come with him. He looked longingly at me as I left.
5) I will not give in to you. I will not let you push me around.
6) He loves to drive during the day. They will let him drive before 9pm.
7) My cat was hungry. It had not eaten since breakfast.
8) They couldnt think of anything better to do. They decided to baby-sit for the family.
9) A book can be a lot of fun to read. A book can be boring.
10) That movie looks great! I would love to come see it with you.
9.Sentence Combining: Using Subordinating Conjunctions. Combine the following sentences
with a subordinating conjunction (after all, although, because, before, however, therefore).
This may require a semicolon!
1) They made plans to go. They ended up not being able to make it.
2) Some say that dogs are friendlier than cats. Cats can also be extremely loving.
3) What weve accomplished is a milestone. Lets raise our glasses for a toast.
4) Dr. Johnson ate a big meal. He went to work afterward.
5) I simply cannot get out of bed. I am too tired.
6) Dont give me a hard time. Weve been close friends for so long.
7) We dont believe the way you do. Our culture is very different from yours.
8) I cant believe that you would do something so crazy. If I were you I might do the same.
9) The two werent always this close. When she died, they became closer.
10) I refused to talk about it. I was put in jail.

WRITING ARTICLES
What is an article?
An article

is a piece of writing usually intended for publication in a newspaper, magazine or journal


is written for a wide audience, so it is essential to attract and retain the readers attention
may include amusing stories, reported speech and descriptions
can be formal or informal, depending on the target audience
should be written in an interesting or entertaining manner
should give opinions and thoughts, as well as facts
is in a less formal style than a report
An article can
describe an experience, event, person or place
present an opinion or balanced argument
compare and contrast
provide information
offer suggestions
offer advice
*persuade readers to adopt a view.

A realistic article should consist of:


1. an eye-catching title which attracts the readers attention and suggests the theme of the
article. (Think about why you read a magazine or newspaper article recently - what made you
read it?) Articles can also have subheadings before each paragraph.
2. an introduction which clearly defines the topic to be covered and keeps the readers
attention.
3. the main body of two to five paragraphs in which the topic is further developed in detail.
4. the conclusion - summarising the topic or a final opinion, recommendation or comment.
REMEMBER Before you begin writing it is important to consider:
where is the article going to appear - in a newspaper or magazine?
who are the intended readers - a specific group such as students or teenagers, or adults in
general?
what is the aim of the article - to advise, suggest, inform, compare and contrast, describe,
persuade, etc.?

10. Read the article What is a refugee? again. Write a magazine article persuading adult
readers to help refugees and accept them in your country.
Plan your writing following the steps mentioned below:
1. INTRODUCTION. Paragraph 1: introduce the topic; include a question to grab readers
attention.
2. PARAGRAPH 2: Explain the refugees situation and persuade readers to help them.
3. PARAGRAPH 3: Persuade readers to accept refugees in your country by giving two
advantages of doing so.
4. CONCLUSION: summarize your purpose, give a recommendation.
You should also include:
1. An interesting title for your article.
2. Persuasive techniques such as repetition, statistics, facts (at least two)
3. Complex sentences.
4. Correct use of verb tenses.
5. Specific and interesting vocabulary: superlative adjectives (at least two)
6. Correct spelling of words.
7. Varied and correct use of punctuation marks.
Write between 250 to 280 words.
You will be assessed on:
Purpose and audience (7)
(4)
Text structure (5)
Sentence structure (6)

Spelling (4)

Punctuation (4)

Vocabulary