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How to gain a better understanding of any prescribed English text

In English no matter the level or ability of the student there is always one common denominator and that is the prescribed text. From Shakespeare, fiction, non-fiction and even multi modal texts each student will be inherently challenged by the ability to properly study and interpret the texts. Thus, it is important that students learn how to properly engage and appreciate a text for its set purpose and dominate values.

When a text is first introduced to a class the first thing students should be asking themselves is “what context and audience was this text written for?” This question forms the basis for all understanding as the text within its contextual time periods has the ability to either convey a specific message of that time or in addition challenge a notion of the time. Furthermore, students if they contextualise the text will gain a greater understanding of the key or dominate aspects of that time period. For example a student studying The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger will identify that this text was published in the 1950’s. Thus, it can be seen with some contextual understanding that this text identifies itself as a bildungsroman of the time, giving a voice to the adolescent person. This inherently simple concept in a modern context had revolutionary repercussions at the time as at this time adolescents were not acknowledged as a stage of development. Through this minute example it can be seen that the importance of the construction of the text in its contextual time period influences the main way in, which a text can be read.

In addition, students will find that studying a prescribed text can be challenging in relation to understanding the plot or storyline. Though this may sound hard their are a couple of techniques in which make this concept easier to complete or understand. One technique in which students can use to find the reading and understanding of a text easier is through reading the text with a highlighter and post-it-notes. This may seem like a simple task to complete but it allows you to rather then read aimlessly, you are reading for a purpose. This purpose culminates at the end of a students reading to by allowing students to have a book full of notes that relate to the important sections of the text. Furthermore, these notes will allow students to identify the best section of the book to read as well as analyse in detail.

Furthermore, a student who feels as though their knowledge is extensive should provide a way in which to test their knowledge. This testing of knowledge can come through students completing chapter and overall book questions. Although this may seem like a rather mundane task it will allow students to focus on gaining a greater and deeper knowledge of the text as well as contributing to identifying key quotes easier. These key quotes can be used for answers to harder style questions on the practice and translate into quotes re-used for your major essay.

Finally, once a student has completed all these steps one must consider that they should develop a quote bank or table. This collection of information will provide students with both a basis of understanding but also when considered as a whole it can provide a key to constructing an essay.

In conclusion, students must consider that with these specific techniques and tricks to learning one will have a greater and more comprehensive knowledge of there set text. Thus, the ability for students to excel in there study can formulate down to the detailed study of the prescribed or set text.

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