Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension: 2

Part II

Let’s take the melded passage presented in the previous section and deconstruct it.

Step one:First, one needs to understand that when one is confronted with an RC passage, it’s more important to understand the structure of the passage than its content. Some call it mapping the passage. I don’t care how you term it as long as you understand the premise and apply it correctly.

Second, to help one successfully map a passage transition words play a very important role.

These transition words fall into five main categories. Please refer to the table below –

Third, learn to recognize sequencing keywords. Now, these may or may not be present in a passage. But if they are present, they may really help you in cracking open the passage and facilitate a much better understanding of the same. These key words are listed below.

Step 2: Armed with these keywords let’s now begin with a passage that has been printed out on a sheet of paper. I recommend that you practice on at least thirty to forty paper based passages before transitioning to computer based tests. There is a reason for that. See, initially, when you begin you will need to underline these keywords to improve your comprehension. After a while as your confidence grows you’ll be ready to take on any reading comprehension passage, whatever the medium of its presentation may be. Be forewarned though, the initial transition will see a dip in accuracy, but I guarantee you that most people will see a distinct upward swing within a week of transitioning from paper based tests to computer based tests as long as they continue to practice the fundamentals discussed here.

 

For our example we shall use this passage

Kazuko Nakane’s history of the early Japanese immigrants to central California’s Pajaro Valley focuses on the development of farming communities there from 1890 to 1940. The Issei (first-generation immigrants) were brought into the Pajaro Valley to raise sugar beets. Like Issei laborers in American cities, Japanese men in rural areas sought employment via the “boss” system. The system comprised three elements: immigrant wage laborers; Issei boardinghouses where laborers stayed; and labor contractors, who gathered workers for a particular job and then negotiated a contract between workers and employer. This same system was originally utilized by the Chinese laborers who had preceded the Japanese. A related institution was the “labor club,” which provided job information and negotiated employment contracts and other legal matters, such as the rental of land, for Issei who chose to belong and paid an annual fee to the cooperative for membership.

When the local sugar beet industry collapsed in 1902, the Issei began to lease land from the valley’s strawberry farmers. The Japanese provided the labor and the crop was divided between laborers and landowners. The Issei thus moved quickly from wage-labor employment to sharecropping agreements. A limited amount of economic progress was made as some Issei were able to rent or buy farmland directly, while others joined together to form farming corporations. As the Issei began to operate farms, they began to marry and start families, forming an established Japanese American community. Unfortunately, the Issei’s efforts to attain agricultural independence were hampered by government restrictions, such as the Alien Land Law of 1913. But immigrants could circumvent such exclusionary laws by leasing or purchasing land in their American-born children’s names.

 

Nakane’s case study of one rural Japanese American community provides valuable information about the lives and experiences of the Issei. It is, however, too particularistic. This limitation derives from Nakane’s methodology—that of oral history—which cannot substitute for a broader theoretical or comparative perspective. Future research might well consider two issues raised by her study: were the Issei of the Pajaro Valley similar to or different from Issei in urban settings, and what variations existed between rural Japanese American communities?

 

Once you apply what has been mentioned above the passage should look like this –

Kazuko Nakane’s history of the early Japanese immigrants to central California’s Pajaro Valley focuses on the development of farming communities there from 1890 to 1940. The Issei (first-generation immigrants) were brought into the Pajaro Valley to raise sugar beets. LikeIssei laborers in American cities, Japanese men in rural areas sought employment via the “boss” system. The system comprised three elements: immigrant wage laborers; Issei boardinghouses where laborers stayed; and labor contractors, who gathered workers for a particular job and then negotiated a contract between workers and employer. This same system was originally utilized by the Chinese laborers who had preceded the Japanese. A related institution was the “labor club,” which provided job information and negotiated employment contracts and other legal matters, such as the rental of land, for Issei who chose to belong and paid an annual fee to the cooperative for membership.

When the local sugar beet industry collapsed in 1902, the Issei began to lease land from the valley’s strawberry farmers. The Japanese provided the labor and the crop was divided between laborers and landowners. The Isseithus moved quickly from wage-labor employment to sharecropping agreements. A limited amount of economic progress was made as some Issei were able to rent or buy farmland directly, while others joined together to form farming corporations. As the Issei began to operate farms, they began to marry and start families, forming an established Japanese American community. Unfortunately, the Issei’s efforts to attain agricultural independence were hampered by government restrictions, such as the Alien Land Law of 1913. But immigrants could circumvent such exclusionary laws by leasing or purchasing land in their American-born children’s names.

 

Nakane’s case study of one rural Japanese American community provides valuable information about the lives and experiences of the Issei. It is, however, too particularistic. This limitation derives from Nakane’s methodology—that of oral history—which cannot substitute for a broader theoretical or comparative perspective. Future research might well consider two issues raised by her study: were the Issei of the Pajaro Valley similar to or different from Issei in urban settings, and what variations existed between rural Japanese American communities?

 

Step 3: Now, look at the beginning of each passage to understand the transition.In this particular case that is relatively simple

Paragraph 1: Introduction- A scholarly work on a group is introduced and the group’s organizational dynamics are briefly outlined.

Paragraph 2: Supporting information about that same group’s subsequent progress is presented.

Paragraph 3: Author’s opinion, comprising of both praise for the author and certain limitations of the author’s work is presented.

Of course, reaching step 3 does require some practice, but once you get the hang of it, no passage will ever again pose much of a challenge to you. But we are only halfway there. In the next segment, I’ll discuss the question types that are common to Reading Comprehension passages and the best ways to solve those.

 

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