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A Note From Your Instructor
Notes for English Comp I
The Rhetorical Situation
Building a Thesis
Overcoming Reader's Block
Introduction to Analogy and Comparison/Contrast
In-class exercise: Using Analogies
In-class exercise: Practicing Comparison/Contrast
Practice Sample: Using Comparison/Contrast
Comparing Apples and Oranges
Comparing/Contrasting Two Advertisements
Major Essay Assignments
Essay #1 Imagining An Ideal Learning Environment
Essay #2 Analyzing the Language of Advertising
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ENG 120 Discussion List
~~ OVERCOMING READER'S BLOCK ~~
#1: Adjust your attitude!
- Think of the
problem of reader's block as being solvable, not insurmountable. It doesn't
always have to be this way
you don't always have to become bored when
you read something dry or difficult
you won't always have to struggle
to concentrate the way you do now
Reader's block, if there is such a
thing, is a concrete problem with concrete solutions. There's no reason to
continue being a poor or ineffective reader the entire time you're in college.
Start improving your habits now!
- Accept the
fact that reading for college is not a leisure activity. It's not "entertainment,"
nor was it meant to be. This is not to say that reading is not enjoyable,
or cannot be enjoyable. You are reading to learn, and if you enjoy learning,
then you will enjoy reading.
#2: Open your mind!
- Be open-minded.
Having an open mind is essential to reading effectively. Remain receptive
to what the text can show you or teach you. If you are willing to entertain
ideas you don't necessarily agree with, you can expand your understanding
of different points of view. You become smarter that way--more "well-rounded."
You can still disagree, but you'll have to think about why.
- Be curious!
Real learning is never passive. You bring your active curiosity to any reading
situation. You can't expect to grow intellectually without being curious enough
to want to discover new ideas, new ways of thinking about or understanding
- Be humble.
Approach serious texts with the understanding that they are trying to share
knowledge with you.
- Be critical.
As you get better at reading, comfortable that you understand what an author
is trying to get across, it becomes important to remember the old truism:
you can't believe everything you read. Be ready to uncover faulty logic, biases,
or other intellectually unsound practices that might manipulate you unreasonably.
This can be a challenge; some actually consider it
dare I say, fun.
- Dance with
the text. Make a mental note where it touches you personally. How does what
the writer is saying resonate with your own experiences? Make associative
connections to your own life and with other texts you've read. Jot these associations
in the margin as you're reading.
#3: Be practical!
- Only read (for
school) when you are awake and alert. Set aside a time when you know you're
not likely to be tired or mentally distracted. Be prepared for the necessity
of concentrating deeply.
- Choose a place
to read that's comfortable and unobtrusive. Don't try to read in a place that
you know will cause you distractions. Some people like to read in noisy, busy
places; others need quiet. Get to know what works best for you individually.
- Be prepared
to write as you read. This means having the right materials ready. You'll
need a pen to annotate the text and a dictionary to look up words you don't
know. You might even need to keep your notebook or a reading journal handy
so that you can note any longer questions or commentary you might have about
specific passages. A double column reading journal is quite useful for this
purpose. In the left-hand column you copy short passages from the text that
you would like to respond to, either with a question or a comment. Then, in
the right-hand column, you record your response, whatever it is. Maybe you
don't understand what the author is saying. Maybe you want to voice your agreement
or disagreement. Maybe you want to pursue an association you've made with
the idea stated. This commentary is recorded in the right-hand column. Writing
as you read helps you stay active as you read; some people even think more
clearly if they are writing.