Please choose an option:
News & Newspapers
- Scanner - a program that highlights the words in a text
that are easy for a reader to find. Use it to improve the organisation and reader-friendliness of your writing.
Materials for HK Polytechnic University Courses
Departmental-specific materials in
CILL (for ACCT (Accounting), BRE (Building & Real Estate), BUSS
(Business), CBS, CSE, EE, HTM, ITC
E-mail Discussion Lists
Join these lists and you will get e-mail everyday from learners all over
the world discussioning General and Business English, current events, cinema, sports and
science and technology. You can send in e-mail and join in the discussion. To subscribe,
click here and send a e-mail with no message to firstname.lastname@example.org
There are four stages in needs analysis: what
you need to know about a language, your present problems, your future needs, your needs for your course.
Click here for a Needs Analysis / Planning / Studying / Assessment Form that you can print out and fill in.
Make a list of the problems that you have when you are reading, and the situations where you have these problems. For example:
Example Problem 1: Vocabulary - when I am reading my coursebooks. (This is a vocabulary problem, so go to the vocabulary page!)
Example Problem 2: Speed - I want to read faster.
Example Problem 3: I can't find information quickly in a book.
Think about what English you will need in future, for example for your job. Here are some examples:
Example Future Need 1: I will need to read reports.
Example Future Need 2: I will need to read business letters.
Example Future Need 3: I will need to read books, magazines and newspapers to keep up-to-date in my field.
Example Future Need 4: I want to work for an international company, so my English, including reading, must be very good.
Needs for Your Course
If you are a student you probably need to study English to help you with your course work; eg. for reading English course books. Some example needs are:
Example Course Need 1: I need to find quotes to support my theories.
Example Course Need 2: I need to understand a writer's attitude; are they supporting an argument or against it?
You need to decide:
- what materials and resources you want to use (Click here to watch a video on this)
- whether you want to work alone or with other people
- when you want or need to finish studying; eg. in time for an assignment deadline
- how much improvement is necessary
Materials and Resources
Materials can be books, magazines, newspapers, , etc.
Resources can be teachers, classmates, computers, learner pathways, etc.
Working Alone or With Other People
Reasons for reading and discussing with other people are:
- Explaining what you have read to other people can help you understand better
- Sharing the reading helps you do it quicker
- You can share your thoughts and feelings about what you have read
Reasons for reading alone are:
- If you share a task then you might learn only your part of the task, not how to do all of it. Your aim is to learn, not to finish quickly.
- Maybe you don't want to be influenced by other people
- You don't want to share your ideas with other people.
- Transfer: This means using ideas that you
already have to make learning easier. For example, if you know that a paragraph (like a hamburger) usually has an introduction, a middle
containing supporting detail, and a conclusion, you can use this knowledge to skim (read very quickly, by missing out non-important
information, to understand the general topic) a text because you know that you only have
to read the introduction and conclusion of both the whole text and the paragraphs.
- Translation: You can
read a story in a newspaper in your own language first, then read the same story in an English newspaper. Most of the story will probably be
the same, so the story in your own language will help you to prepare for reading in
English. For example, it will give you vocabulary, and when you read the English story and
there is some vocabulary that you don't know, then you can use your knowledge of the story
to guess what the new vocabulary is.
- Inferencing: You can also use the strategy of reading a newspaper story in your own language first for
prediction. You can predict the contents of the same story in an English newspaper.
Reading to confirm your predictions is easier than reading with no background information.
Click here for more information on reading newspapers.
- Prediction: As well as
predicting from newspaper stories in your own language, you can predict from your
knowledge of the world, you knowledge of how people think, write and talk, and your
knowledge of what the writer is like. For example, if you are reading a book it is a good
idea to read about the author and the contents (on the cover or at the front of the book)
to help you make predictions about what he or she believes.
Studying: Reading Skills
Reading skills you might find useful are: skimming, scanning, predicting, understanding the organisation of a text, guessing meanings and identifying a writer's attitude and purpose.
Skimming is looking through a text very quickly to understand the main topics and arguments. Read the introduction, headings,
first and last sentence of each paragraph, and the conclusion. This will help you read and find information faster.
Scanning is looking for details to answer questions that you have. Use the results of your skimming (see above) to find relevant sections, then look
quickly through those sections looking for key words that are relevant to your question.
This will help you read and find information and quotes faster.
Click here for a program called the Scanner in
which you paste in your writing, and the program scans it and highlights words that are easy to scan for.
Predicting is guessing the content of a text based on your knowledge of the subject, the author's area of expertise and opinions, and the context.
You can do this by asking yourself 'journalistic questions' about the topic before reading.
You need to understand the organisation of a text at 2 levels, at
the paragraph level and at the whole text level. The paragraph level means understanding
the organisation of the sentences in a paragraph, and the links between them. For example
you can draw arrows from words like 'he', 'she', 'they', and 'it', back to the nouns they
refer to, like this:
You also need to understand the logic of the paragraph or group of paragraphs, for example by drawing a mind-map of the the organisation, with words like 'and', 'but' and 'so' linking the topics and sub-topics.
The whole text level is organised in different ways according to the type of document you are reading, for example a memo might have a situation, problem, suggested solution and a request for action. A report usually has a title page, abstract, table of contents, methodology, findings, conclusions and recommendations sections.
Guessing meanings of words and phrases is possible because you know the situation. However, if you are using the Internet you can use one of the online dictionaries to find the meaning.
Identifying a writers attitude is done by knowing the connotation (a nice or a bad meaning) of the words he uses. If you see a word that you think may have a special connotation, check in a dictionary and look for the abbreviation 'derog.', which means that the word has a bad meaning. It is also important to know if a writer is 'objective' (gives good and bad points) or 'biased' ( gives only good, or only bad points).
The writer's purposes may include to inform, to teach, to entertain, to persuade, or to criticise, etc.
When you have finished your plan you need to test or assess yourself to see if you have fulfilled your need. Can you do what your Needs Analysis says you aimed to do?
You can test yourself by doing tests in books, or by reading texts and applying the skills above. You will know if you have improved because you will find reading easier.
Click here for more information on testing yourself.
If you have achieved your aim from your needs analysis, then you can plan to learn another point from your Needs Analysis, or you can change it because of some new thing that you want to learn. Don't forget to come back and revise later.
If you need to study more, change your plan. You could, for example, do some of the Alternative Materials or Extra Materials if you are following a learner pathway. If you are bored you can do something else and come back later.
Last updated on: Thursday, May 30, 2013