Jochen Lüders

Englisch & Sport am Gymnasium und ein bisschen Tango

Questions on the Text – Technique

Wenn du die folgenden Tipps für deine Schüler verändern / anpassen möchtest, kannst du dir das Handout (doc) herunterladen.

First reading: During the first reading you should try to get an overview of the text and its (argu­mentative) structure. If it’s a literary text your aim should be to understand the plot (Handlung) of the story. You should ask yourself questions like: What is it all about? How is the text structured? What is the writer’s attitude towards his topic? What are his main arguments? In a non-fiction text (Sachtext) you should analyse especially the first (= topic) sentence of each paragraph and mentally summa­rize each paragraph in your own words. During the first reading you should look up only words that are absolutely necessary for understanding. Ignore all other words like e.g. descriptive (beschreibend) adjectives.

Second reading: During the second reading you should try to understand also passages/details that you did not really grasp (erfassen) the first time. In addition you should look up ALL the words you do not know or where you are not absolutely sure what they mean in the given con­text.

Analysis: The next step is to read ALL the questions at least TWICE. Then you examine which para­graph(s) or passage(s) each question refers to. Analyse ALL the questions first before you start answering any of them. Normally you can assume (davon ausgehen) that questions are asked in chronological order, i.e. the first question refers to the first (or the first two) paragraph(s), the second question to the following paragraph(s) etc. That is why it would be rather unusual if the third question refers to the first two paragraphs, whereas the first question refers to the third and fourth paragraph. Look out especially for keywords in the first sentence of a paragraph (= topic sentence).

Overlapping: Questions normally do not overlap (sich überschneiden). Look and think again care­fully when you are about to write the same in two different answers. It may happen that two questions refer to the same passage(s) but almost always they drive at (abzielen auf) different aspects.

Notes: Note your results either on extra note-paper or use e.g. a wavy line in the margin together with the corresponding number of the question. Leave enough space on your note-paper so that you can easily add something later on.

Highlighting: Keep in mind that you cannot undo (rückgängig machen) wrong highlighting. High­light only key words and/or passages, do not waste precious time by highlighting complete para­graphs. Do NOT highlight unknown words because they may be completely irrelevant.

Quoting vs. paraphrasing: Keep in mind that you are supposed to “use your own words as far as is appro­priate” (angemessen), and NOT “as far as possible”. That means that you may, and sometimes even should quote key words and/or passages. Moreover you should quote when your paraphrase would be much longer and/or complicated than the original passage. Try to find German synonyms or paraphrases and see whether you can translate them into English. Do not forget that your monolingual dictionary often offers perfect synonyms and/or paraphrases.

Stylistic Devices: Typically a question asks you to find three “relevant” stylistic devices (pdf) and “explain how they work”. Look through the whole text and note your results grouped according to the differ­ent devices on your note-paper. The four most common devices are simile, metaphor, personifica­tion and alliteration. Go through your list and choose the three best devices. When you have found e.g. several metaphors you again choose the best one. Stylistic devices are “relevant” or “good” when they occur (vorkommen) not just once in a text and when it is clear that the author has deliber­ately (absichtlich) used them, i.e. for instance when an alliteration is not just accidental (zufällig).


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  1. Lena

    Super! Sind ganz viele tolle Tipps dabei. Ich bin ganz besonders froh, diesen Eintrag gefunden zu haben, zumal ich einen relativ unmotivierten Englischlehrer habe.

  2. Christin Kolk

    ich danke sehr für die hilfe. ich habe lange versucht es zu öffnen und es öffnete sich immer mit Chrome, aber jetzt durch diese hilfreiche seite, öffne ich es mit Firefox und es funktioniert 🙂

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