oil on canvas，65.6 x 100.6 cm，Purchased 1979，National Gallery of Australia
Followed with a Review of the Writing
Initial translation by Haoran, Edited by Shine
Intensive reading followed with a review or reflection essay is one of the most fruitful ways to learn from reading. In this paper, I will talk about what the goals of intensive reading are, what intensive reading covers, what makes reading “intensive”, what we should pay attention to, and what really is the process of intensive reading.
I’d like to take the reading of an article in the Economist magazine as an example to guide you through the approach of intensive reading followed with a review of the writing.
Part 1 – Summary and response to the author’s argument
The first part of the review is to analyse the theme of the article and respond to the author’s argument with critical thinking. Outline the following:
1) The theme of the article
2) The major supporting points
3) Reflection: Do you agree or disagree with the article’s perspective? If not, what are the main reasons? List these reasons in dot points, which can be extended to a persuasive essay if you like.
Part 2 – Analysis on the logical structure and reasoning of the article
This section will focus on examining the logical structure and reasoning of the text.
How did the author support his/her view? For example, was there any macro or micro economic information as the supporting details? Did the author quote expert opinions? Did statistics play an important role? Did the author use comparison or benchmarking? Most importantly, how did the author’s points relate to each other? Did they all work in parallel or in adversative fashion? Or the argument strength enhances point by point?
Part 3 – Appreciation of the use of language
In reading these articles, you should strive to take a leaf out of the author’s book. Seeing proper use of language will develop an understanding of the positives and negatives in your composition. Write down sentences that are aesthetically pleasant, humorous and/or do a great job at explaining.
You should take note of the wide variety of sentence structure, (simple, compound and complex sentences) that convey the message and keep the reader engaged. Learn the methods of how well-balanced structures for compound and complex sentences are achieved by the author.
In addition, good writers use effective vocabulary. So please pay attention to the use of vocabulary and its modality. For example, a strong argument would need to have strong modality of words. Sometimes a word is able to produce great internal neurological representation or express a much nuanced concept or create sensible beauty that you can enjoy. In your future writing, try to incorporate these words or draw understanding regarding how you could achieve a similar effect with a tailored choice of words.
Notes should be also taken for the interesting use of language techniques and conventions such as suitable metaphors, personification etc.
The purpose is to learn as much as you can from an author’s writing for your own improvement in writing,debating or presentation. If an article is good enough to appear on a respectable magazine, it’s bound to have values we can take from it.
Part 4 – The three main goals of intensive reading
1) To spark critical thinking. During the intensive reading, you will analyse the author’s perspective and question whether or not it’s agreeable. If you don’t agree, what would be the counter arguments of your position?
2) To improve persuasiveness and expressiveness. The majority of articles in a magazine such as The Economist are written by talented authors. You can learn from their usage of language features and text structure to improve your own clarity, persuasiveness and/or aesthetics.
3) To broaden horizon of knowledge. The Economist magazine covers a vast range of topics in depth, carrying enough background information qualified for further discussions. Studying these texts enriches your knowledge by accumulating useful tidbits of information. Parents are able to help their children understand the background information, while encouraging students to conduct their own research.
In short, intensive reading will broaden your perspective and knowledge base from background information and further research, while provoking you to think critically – ultimately leading to better essay writing.
You don’t write the reflection or review essay just for the sake of it, but use notes to consolidate your learning.
Part 5 – Writing notes for one aspect at a time
A lot of time and effort is needed for intensive reading. Writing a review is no short process.
Each part needs substantial time to complete, so don’t bite off more than you can chew. Under time constraints, it is always better to focus the review on a single aspect and finish that before moving onto the next. Say you are doing intensive reading on an Economist article, you may decide to only focus on “text and logic structure”. When this is done, move on to evaluate the arguments and formulate your own opinion.
A different approach would be to focus on vocabulary. If you find an appropriate and inspiring word, then research the synonyms and antonyms, listing them before comparing each to determine the best places to be used. Furthermore, research how others have applied the word. See how they incorporate it into the structure of a sentence to make it more interesting to read. Starting from only a few words in the article, you can easily fill an entire sheet of paper with words, definitions and good examples of sentences. Effective learning is when you extend and expand from the learning itself.
oil on canvas，54 x 73 cm Gift of Eugène and Victorine Donop de Monchy 1940, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
Claude Monet France 1840 – 1926，The waterlily pond [Le Bassin aux nymphéas] 1917-19，
Intensive Reading and Note Taking
Translated by Haoran
Many students and their parents are often perplexed by the question: what is the most effective way to study a text and make notes? Some parents decide to do intensive reading with their children, yet they can be equally as confused. What is the goal of intensive reading? How does reading become “intensive”? What makes intensive reading “intensive”? What do we need to pay attention to? And exactly how do we do intensive reading?
All roads lead to Rome, similarly, there are many ways to study, but it is vital for students to find methods which suit them the best. This is no easy task.
The following will be an introduction and extensive guide to how to use intensive reading and taking notes to effectively accumulate experience and vocabulary for studying. We will be using articles from The Economist magazine as examples.
Part 1 – General analysis and summary of the text
Taking notes for a text should summarise the main points of the article. It should not be dissimilar to planning an essay.
The first questions we should ask when taking notes are “what is the author’s intention for writing this article?””what points does the author raise to explain/argue for his opinion?” and “how does the author back up his points?”. List the answers down.
Next, think about what our opinion is on the matter of discussion. Do we agree or disagree with the article’s perspective? Why or why not? List our most important points in dot-point form. If we are willing, we can easily use this topic for essay writing-practice.
Part 2 – Analysis of the text’s structure
This section will focus on examining the logical structure of the text.
That is to say, we will be analysing how exactly the author supports his/her view. From what angle does the author “attack”? Does the author support his/her viewpoint from an individual standpoint or perhaps a global one? Does the author use the opinions of experts or try to prove his/her point with statistics? Most importantly, how do the author’s points relate to each other? Do they all work in parallel, or line up together to form a large overarching argument, or do points raised later in the article rebut the ones raised early on?
Part 3 – Appreciation of the use of language
When we read these articles, we should strive to take a leaf out of the author’s book. Seeing good use of language will help us understand what is good and what is bad in the future. We should write down sentences that we find to be aesthetically pleasing, humorous and/or do a great job at explaining.
We should also take note of good sentence structures. Some sentences may not stand out too much because they don’t have anything special to catch our attention, but perhaps express something in a way which isn’t jarring and would ruin the experience of reading if it were phrased differently.
Sometimes we may find some words which are very aesthetically pleasing, perhaps it expresses a very nuanced concept ina single word. In the future, we can try to incorporate these words in our sentences to achieve a similar effect.
We can also note down the interesting ways some sentences use language conventions. Interesting metaphors, personification etc.
The purpose of this is to accumulate vocabulary that we can use in our own texts to achieve greater effects. If an article is good enough to appear on a respectable magazine, it’s bound to have things we can borrow from it.
Part 4 – The three main goals of intensive reading
The first main goal of intensive reading is to provoke us to think. When we do intensive reading, we think about the author’s perspective and question whether or not we agree with it. If we don’t agree, we then think about what counter arguments we could raise to for our own perspective.
The second goal is to improve our ability to express our thoughts. The majority of articles in a magazine such as The Economist are written by talented authors. We can learn from their usage of language features and text structureto improve our own texts’ clarity, persuasiveness and/or aesthetics.
The third goal is to broaden our perspective. The Economist magazine discusses a vast range of topics, and the topics also have enough background information such that they are worthy to be topics themselves. Studying these texts broadens our knowledge by accumulating many bits of information. Parents should help their children understand the background information, but it is also great for students to do their own research.
So basically, intensive reading will broaden our perspective and knowledge base by presenting us with a lot of background information, while at the same time provoking us to think about real world problems for ourselves and lastly teaches us tips and tricks to writing essays.
We don’t take notes for intensive reading just for the sake of it, it is a culmination of all the things we learn from the article.
Part 5 – Taking notes for one aspect at a time
A lot of time and effort needs to be put into intensive reading. Taking notes is no short process.
Each of the above parts needs a lot of time to complete, so don’t bite off more than we can chew. Under time constraints, it is always better to focus our notes on a single part and finish that before we move on to the next. Say we are using intensive reading on an Economist article, we can decide to only focus on text and logic structure. When we are done with that, we move on to evaluate the arguments and formulating our own opinion.
A different approach would be to focuson vocabulary. If we find the words very fascinating, we could research its synonyms and antonyms, listing them all down and comparing them to determine the best times to use each. We can also research how others have used the word and what beautiful sentences they made which incorporate it. Starting from only a couple words from the article, we could easily fill and entire sheet of paper with words, definitions and example sentences.
Claude Monet France 1840 – 1926，The Pont de l’Europe. Saint‑Lazare Station [Le Pont de l’Europe. Gare Saint‑Lazare] 1877
oil on canvas， 65 x 81 cm，Gift of Eugène and Victorine Donop de Monchy 1940, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris