A top-down approach is one technique that can be used to increase your ability to gist-read (reading for general understanding) as it allows you to make use of your pre-existing knowledge of a topic.
Let’s look at a newspaper article. Newspapers are wonderful sources of authentic content and should be read regularly to help increase vocabulary. Before we even open the newspaper, we can make some assumptions about the story we are going to read:
· * it will have a clear headline
· * it will probably have a sub-heading
· * the opening paragraph will probably be an overview of what the story is going to be about
· * there might be a picture it may be written entirely in the passive voice
Opening a newspaper, we may read a headline like:
Computer Firm’s Share Price Drops
As we read the headline, our mind is automatically associating the words we have previously absorbed on the subject. It happens instantaneously.
Now that we have an idea of what the story could be about, we read the opening paragraph. This should affirm our prediction and allow us to read the whole story relatively quickly as we combine the words on the page with the knowledge we have activated.
This means that if you have an idea where the story came from, it can help you predict something about the content. This in turn allows you to train your mind into linking contexts with your own knowledge.
The message is clear and simple. Before you start reading, take a moment to make predictions about the text and allow your brain to start making connections. The time it saves you could be invaluable.
You should be able to do well in writing as it is so tactical. Learn the rules and follow them. Pay close attention to the word count and most importantly: ANSWER THE QUESTION and resist the temptation to alter it to suit your interests or knowledge.
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