Close reading: Three stages
Below we give you an eleven-point plan to help you approach a text for the first time when the purpose is to understand it fully (close reading).
1) Read the whole text once, slowly and carefully. Underline with a pencil the words you do not understand. Do not look up the words yet. When you are finished, ask yourself the following questions: What is the text about? Which words make it difficult for you to understand the text? What difficult words do you think you understand from the context? Then look up these words. (A good idea is to write them down, perhaps in a separate notebook. This is a good way of increasing your vocabulary.)
2) Read the text through again. If you feel you can understand all or most of the text, then you can progress to the next stage.
3) What is the main topic of the text? Try to answer in one or two sentences.
4) Who (persons, gender, age nationality, race, occupational group etc.) and what is the text about?
5) What geographical area is being referred to?
6) If the main points are divided into paragraphs or sections (e.g. separated by headlines), note the most important points in each paragraph or each section.
7) What questions and issues does the text raise?
8) What conclusions does it draw?
9) Did you learn anything from this text?
10) What do you think was most interesting?
11) Do you agree with everything that was said in the text?
When you have worked through these three stages you should have a good understanding of the text. Finally you can test yourself. Take your list of difficult words and try to write sentences using each of the new words. Share your sentences in class or in groups. Are you using the words right?