December 08, 2008

#01-193: Reading the Newspaper: SQ3R - Part I

letters "SQ3R" and "Part I"

Note: SQ3R stands for "Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review." It's an excellent way to build vocabulary as you read a newspaper or other text. In this lesson we'll focus on the first step, "Survey."

Get Ready: As you glance at a page in a newspaper, what are the "parts" you see, such as a headline, etc.?

I'd like to share with you a system for reading articles on your own.

The system is called "SQ3R." The letters stand for "Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review." Today we'll talk about the first step, "Survey." We'll look at "Question" in Lesson #01-194, and the remainder--"Read, Recite, Review"--in Lesson #01-195.


Survey: Before reading an article, you should try looking for clues as to what the article is about. In a newspaper article, start with the headline; then look at any pictures and their captions; and finally, tackle the "lead."

The headline is, of course, the "title" of the article. Newspaper headlines often have unusual grammar and specialized vocabulary.

I'm looking at the front page of the Daily for Thursday, December 4, 2008, where I read: "Banks urged to make more loans."

If the grammar seems a bit strange, it's because the sentence is "condensed." Words are usually left out of headlines to save space, or to allow for faster scanning. The articles (a, an, the) are often left out, as well as the "be" verbs.

Also note that this headline is in the present tense. As a rule, headline writers use present tense for immediate past information (as here); past tense for past perfect ("went" instead of "had gone," etc.); and future tense for coming events (often in the infinitive: "New film to open next week" instead of "New film will open next week").

As for specialized vocabulary, note the use of "urged." This word appears nowhere in the article, but is common "headline shorthand" for "recommended," "advised," and so on. The same word was used, for example, on the sports page the day before: "India urged not to sever cricket ties with Pakistan."


The next step in surveying the article is to look for any pictures connected to it, and their captions. This can give you a clue as to what you'll be reading, helping your comprehension. A picture is, after all, worth a thousand words.


Finally, examine the lead (sometimes spelled "lede") of the article. This is the first paragraph (sometimes two) and will tell you the main point of the article.

The lead can be a bit tricky, because it will often try to capture a lot of information in only one sentence. This sometimes means adding words and clauses to "squeeze" more in.

The lead that follows the headline above reads: "The State Council said yesterday it would adopt more favorable policies and update the financial system to encourage the country's commercial banks to grant more loans to support economic growth." Whew!

In Lesson #01-194, we'll follow up on that lead as we learn the next step: Question.


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. captions
  2. condensed
  3. favorable
  4. infinitive
  5. sever
  6. shorthand
  7. specialized
  8. squeeze
  9. tackle
  10. tense

  1. had some parts removed to make it smaller or shorter
  2. the forms of verbs that indicate when something happened, such as past, present, and future
  3. fit into a small space
  4. positive; helpful
  5. a way of expressing ideas briefly, usually as a writing system for secretaries
  6. descriptions of pictures, usually published below them
  7. the "dictionary" form of a verb: to see, to eat, etc.
  8. attack; attempt to understand
  9. used only in certain situations
  10. cut off; end

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for December 8, 2008

This lesson received 315 visits on my old site between February, 2012, and August, 2021.

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. f; 2. a; 3. d; 4. g; 5. j; 6. e; 7. i; 8. c; 9. h; 10. b