This short reading goes beyond the simple comprehension questions, first forcing
the learners to find the general idea and then guiding them through an examination
of the vocabulary, an examination of the writing itself, and finally of the
structure of a news story.
Each section has its own learning focus. In the first section Understanding the main idea, the students are given finding the main idea as their initial purpose for reading the passage.
In a typical news story, the main idea has already been summarised for the convenience of readers in the form of the headline.
Only then do they then read the passage. Most intermediate and advanced reading should begin with the learners reading for the main idea.
In second section, Checking the vocabulary, the students have to
find, locate, and underline vocabulary phrases in the text. From how the vocabulary
is used in the text, the students then figure out the meaning of the phrases.
(Note that while they are asked to underline six phrases, only five meaningsare given. This is to prevent them from matching a phrase to its meaning through an arbitrary process of elimination.)
In the third section, the writing itself is examined. First, they examine some
parallelism in the text (Notice that swam three rivers, walked 13 kilometres,
and kept a week's vigil are parallel). Then, the students examine anaphoric
reference in the text.
In the next section, the structure of a news story is examined. A news story
always has a headline(the title) which contains the main idea in
a very condensed form.
This is sometimes followed by a bylinewhich tells readers which reporter wrote the story, or by whom the story is written. The news story chosen for this exercise has no byline.
The datelinetells the date the story is written and also the place where the story originates.
The text or news story proper that follows is written in what is called the
inverted pyramidstructure. This means that instead of telling the
story from beginning to the end, the reporter puts the most newsworthy or important
facts at the beginning and then gives the information in descending order of
If done correctly, the first paragraph, called the leador intro in newspaper jargon, tells the whole story in the shortest form. It is almost like a long headline.
Or to put it another way, the lead, like the headline, contains the main idea of the news story. But it is a longer summary of the story than the headline.
The inverted pyramid style of news writing is the newspaper way of helping people read newspapers. Readers may not have the time to read a whole story.
They can glance at the headlines pick the stories they want to read and then read the first paragraph or two to get the most important details of the news.
Although the news story about the dog who followed its master to prison has no byline, that is, we do not know the name of the reporter, it has a credit lineat the end. This tells readers which news agency or wire service sent the story. In this case, it credits AP or Associated Press as the source of the story. While AP is the source of the story received by the New Straits Times, the original source of the AP story is a report published in a Bangladesh newspaper, Sangbad.
Finally, the reading passage itself is used as the basis of a writing assignment.
Is the article best summarized by the title "Pet dog that followed master to prison," by the last paragraph of the article, or by some other part of the article? Circle the part of the article that best summarizes the whole article.
Vocabulary: Find the following words and phrases in the article and then underline them twice:
a. kept a vigil
b. ferried him across the river
c. released from (prison)
d. wag its tail
e. critically wounded
f. remote village
Study each phrase and the sentence it occurs in. Decide what the phrase means in this article. Put the appropriate letter in the blank spaces below.
____ let him out of the jail
____ far from a major city
____ watched and waited for his master
____ shook its tail to show its excitement
____ took to the other side of the river in a boat
1. The first sentence tells three things that the dog did. Copy the parts that tell the three things and write one on each of the three lines below:
and then _________________________________
Does the way this sentence was written help tell you that the dog did three things? ____
2. The phrase the pet dog in the first paragraph refers to the dog; the next word referring the dog is his in the phrase his master. Find and circle all the words that refer to the dog and then join your circles.
Other words and phrases refer to Sohrab Ali. In another colour, circle each of the words or phrases that refer to Sohrab Ali and then join your circles.
Do you think the main focus of the story was the dog or Sohrab Ali? ______
Why do you think so? __________________________________
3. What is the main point of the article? Loyalty? Honesty? Helpfulness? Kindness? ____ Why do you say so? ____
This is a newspaper article and newspaper articles have their own special structure.
1. Where do you find the main idea of a newspaper article summarized?
2. What comes first on the first line? (Hint: What is Dhaka ?)
3. What does AP stand for?
4. Is AP the source of the original article? ___ How many times is it made clear to the reader what the real source of the article is? ____ Where? _______
Imagine that you are the president of the English Language Society in your school. You are required to give a talk to the members of your society on the importance of being loyal. You decide to tell a story based on this newspaper article to illustrate your point. As preparation for your talk, you write out your story (less than 100 words).