While reading our previous selection, you must have felt confused because there were many words that you did not understand. You might have thought that the piece you were reading was nonsensical! You must have employed several strategies to help you make sense of the poem. Below are some reading strategies that you can use to increase your understanding of the text.
GETTING AN OVERVIEW OF THE TEXT
At times, it may be a good idea to survey the text as a whole before delving deeper into each part. Whenever you want to get the gist of the text’s content, you use previewing, skimming, and scanning.
Previewing means looking at the readily visible parts of the text, like titles and subtitles, and also visuals and graphs, pictures, and charts. Previewing helps familiarize you with the contents of the selection and focus on the important information in the text. To preview the text properly, first identify your purpose for reading. Next, examine the titles and subtitles of the text. Afterward, browse the introduction and the conclusion of the text. Finally, look at the visual elements of the text. Take note of the things that interest you to better understand the text later. In the case of “Jabberwocky,” an illustration could be useful in helping you understand the poem. It can give you an idea of what the Jabberwock looked like and what happened in the poem’s narrative.
2. Skimming and scanning
Skimming the text means you look for the main point of the reading and identify the ideas that develop it. Skimming effectively means physically moving your eyes rapidly along the page and tracing your finger along the lines a the h speed up your reading. This skill also involves quickly going through the beginning and concluding sentences of paragraphs because these usually talk about the topic of the text.
Skimming may be a bit difficult with a poem like “Jabberwocky,” especially since it has words that you are not familiar with. However, quickly going over the text may give you an idea of the boy’s quest to slay the Jabberwock, which is an important idea in the poem.
Meanwhile, scanning the reading is looking for specific information. To scan the text effectively, you need to have an idea of the details you are looking for. The instructions of your teacher or questions about the text may help you in knowing what to scan for. This strategy also involves physically moving your eyes• quickly along the lines of text. You do not have to read every word; just read until you locate the details you are searching for. Scanning the text is especially useful when doing research or taking examinations.
Scanning is a useful strategy to apply to the previous poem, especially when searching for answers to discussion questions like “What weapon is used to kill the Jabberwock?”
USING CONTEXT CLUES
After using the previous strategies to go over the gist of the text, you are now ready to have a closer look at some parts of the reading. One technique to improve your reading comprehension and the reading pace is using context clues.
Context clues are words, phrases, and sentences that surround an unfamiliar word that can help you recognize the meaning of an unknown word because the text gives you information about it. Thus, you can study how a word is used in a sentence and discover an approximate definition. Getting the meaning of unfamiliar words through context clues is a very useful process because this allows you to read more fluently and increases your vocabulary.
The most common types of context clues are the following:
Synonyms are used when the text has words or phrases that are similar in meaning to the unknown word. Though their meanings are similar, they are not exactly the same because a word may have different associations with it. Synonym clues may be signaled by the following words: “like” or “as.”
- Humpty Dumpty took great pleasure in obfuscating the poem’s meaning for Alice. His explanations of the poem were confusing and complicated.
- Alice envisaged the Jabberwock in her mind. She imagined its sharp claws and jaws and then shivered in fright.
- The narrator in the poem was euphoric at his son’s victory, for he cried out triumphantly when the boy came home.
An antonym is a word that reveals the opposite meaning in relation to the unknown word. When you see words like “although,” “but,” “despite,” “instead,” “in contrast,” “unlike,” “however,” “even though,” “on the contrary,” and “conversely,” these usually precede antonyms because these are used t show contrasting ideas.
- The boy in the poem surreptitiously set out to find the monster. He did not tell anyone about his plans because he did not want them to worry.
- The Jabberwock was relentlessly pursued by the boy, unlike the others who gave up easily when they heard how terrifying the creature was.
- The hero in the poem did not give in to trepidation; rather, he bravely slew the Jabberwock with his sword.
Examples are specific details in a text that are used to clarify the meaning of a word.
- There are many eccentric creatures in the forest, such as mome raths and borogoves.
- Only a few weapons are truly nifty in hunting monsters, like the vorpal sword.
- The boy’s father was ecstatic when he found out that the Jabberwock was conquered by his son. His behavior included laughing, cheering, and hugging his son.
4. Explanations and definitions
Explanations may be given as clues to describe an unknown term. When phrases like “because” or “that is” follow a word, these may be explanations. Meanwhile, definitions may follow an unfamiliar word. Terms like “is,” “means,” “is defined as,” and “refers to” are used with definitions.
- Humpty Dumpty told Alice that “brillig” means the same thing as four o’clock in the afternoon because that is when people started broiling things for dinner.
- Hearing someone “outgrabe“—which means he is whistling, bellowing, and sneezing all at once—can be a funny sight.
- Alice thought that “toves” were curious creatures since they were part-badger, part-lizard, and part corkscrew.
The situation in which a word is used can also be helpful in determining the meaning of that word. The meaning of the word may change depending on its context, or how and when it is used.
- The boy wondered if he should have brought some backup, in case he could not take on the Jabberwock by himself.
- The hero’s conquest of the Jabberwock is an exemplary case of bravery.
- The hero is lucky that the murder of the Jabberwock does not merit a case in court!
In the first example, “case” is part of the idiom “in case,” which means “if it should happen.” In the second sentence, “case” pertains to “an instance of the occurrence.” Finally, “case” in the third sentence refers to “charges raised in court for a crime.”
USING CONNOTATION AND DENOTATION
Another way of improving your comprehension of a text is by trying to understand the different meanings that particular words can have. Words only make sense to us if we understand what they mean. Two ways of describing the meaning of a word are called denotation and connotation. Denotation is the basic, precise, literal meaning of the word that can be found in a dictionary. Connotation, meanwhile, is the positive, negative, or neutral feelings, attitudes, ideas, or associations with a word. These shades of meaning are affected by social overtones, emotional meanings, or cultural implications.
To illustrate the difference between denotation and connotation, compare the following meanings of the words “father” and “daddy”:
Denotation: a male parent.
Connotation: -association: positive; feelings: love and respect
Denotation: a male parent.
Connotation: -association: positive; feelings: love, familiarity, childhood
The denotations of “father” and “daddy” are synonymous because they both pertain to a male parent. However, denotations do not reveal the individual responses of people to a word. “Daddy” is more connotative than “father,” even though they denote the same thing because many children have fond memories of their fathers. Of course, this does not discount that each reader has a different relationship with his or her father. Two words may have the same definition but can have different emotional content.
Connotations, therefore, portray more multifaceted definitions of a word whether these are positive, negative, or neutral. Positive connotations are generally favorable associations toward a word. Negative connotations, meanwhile, tend to have unfavorable feelings or ideas toward a word. Neutral connotations bring up impartial associations towards a word.
Let us apply these to the following example: Compare the associations with the words “house,” “home,” and “shanty.” All of these words denote places where people live.
Which of these connotations is positive? Negative? Neutral? A “house” has a neutral connotation because it is a “building in which someone lives:’ A “home” has a more positive connotation because it brings to mind “a place of warmth and comfort and familiarity.” Finally, a “shanty” has a negative connotation because it is associated with poverty; it is a “small, crudely built shack.”
Usually, your knowledge of how a word is used and the context clues in the will help you to determine the type of connotation. To further illustrate this, let us look at the following situation:
Archie has two aunts: Tita Jennifer and Tita Joanna. Tita Jennifer is proud of her nephew; meanwhile, Tita Joanna does not favor him so much. This disposition may color the language that they use.
For example, Archie likes to save money while he is shopping.
Tita Jennifer says: He is thrifty.
Tita Joanna says: He is stingy.
Both words talk about saving money, but their connotations are different. “Thrifty” used in this sense means that Archie values his money and knows how to look for bargains. However, “stingy” suggests that Archie is greedy and selfish with his money.
Another example is that Archie is a hard worker.
Tita Jennifer says: He is very focused on his job.
Tita Joanna says: He is very obsessed with his job.
Both words talk about paying close attention to the job; the difference is in their connotation. “Focused” hints at Archie’s dedication and interest in his job, while “obsessed” implies that he is a workaholic. The examples above show that even two words listed as synonyms are not exactly the same.
Analyzing the connotation and denotation of a word helps us to be sensitive to the meaning it communicates. Your knowledge of context clues will help you see how a word is used in a sentence; this analysis helps you to be sensitive to the word’s shades of meaning because a word’s connotations can create different impressions for readers. Examine the differences in the examples below. Which of these are positive connotations? Negative connotations? Why?
- Chubby, voluptuous, fat
- Chatty, glib, loudmouthed
- Common, routine, trite