(a) Old Comprehension: focused more on information
- What age was Flo-Jo when she died?
- Was she married?
- Where did she come from?
- What questions did her death raise?
- Is this an effective piece of topic journalism? Give reasons for your answer.
- What does the word ‘sibling’ mean? Show its use in a sentence.
(b) New Comprehension: focused more on perspectives of meaning
This passage is about the unexpected sudden death of a great Olympic athlete at the age of thirty-eight. Flo-Jo was a beautiful, charming woman who came from a poor background and won over the world through her personal style.
- Why was this event of interest to many people do you think?
- Do you believe that she was on drugs?
- Do you agree with the view of Prince Alexander?
- Would you be convinced by her coach’s assertions?
- In your view is the writer for or against Flo-Jo or is she just giving an overview of the situation?
- In Section B, The Language of Information, Tom Humphries and Brendan McWilliams suggest that a piece of journalism is successful if it makes the reader read right through to the end of the passage. Did this passage keep you reading? Why or why not did it succeed for you? How did the way it used words and sentences affect you? Would you want to change it in any way to make it more effective?
- What are your thoughts about the use of drugs in sport? With which of the following statements would you agree or disagree?
- All drugs should be banned from sport.
- No matter what the risks people will take drugs to improve their performance so drugs should be freely available to all.
- Drugs destroy the meaning of sporting contests.
- People using drugs should be banned for life from sport.
- Sports stars have become commodities exploited by the sports gear companies, so they take risks and use drugs to keep up their level of performance and thus make more money.
The contrast between the two approaches should be evident. Old comprehension tended to neglect the significance of the text for short-term linguistic objectives which might or might not be achieved. New comprehension foregrounds context and the meaningful whole. It invites interaction within that context, thus engaging the student in an integrated process of language development which is predicated on purposeful activity leading to increased language awareness.
Just how different this is from what teachers are being told to do for Common Core would be a fruitful discussion.