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Learning to identify Key Ideas. Reading strategies for The analysis of discourse : S peeches & articles (journals/commentaries/excerpts ). What’s the Big Idea?. Look at the headline or title - This often broadly summarizes the main topic of a news, magazine or journal article .

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learning to identify key ideas

Learning to identify Key Ideas

Reading strategies for The analysis of discourse:

Speeches & articles


what s the big idea
What’s the Big Idea?
  • Look at the headline or title - This often broadly summarizes the main topic of a news, magazine or journal article.
  • Locate the Thesis Statement - Every argument, paragraph, and important pieces of information are always related to this main unifying idea.
  • Locate the Topic Sentence at Paragraph Level – Note the writer’s intention and how this paragraph links to the Thesis Statement. This is done by identifying claims, counter claims, elaboration and lexical choices.
  • It is important to pay extra attention to the introductory and concluding paragraphs. This will scaffold your general grasp of the entire passage by providing an overview of the author’s intentions and possible ideological biases.
@paragraph level
@Paragraph Level

A paragraph is a group of sentences that develops one main idea

Paragraphs tend to go from a main idea to specific details or evidence.

The main idea within the paragraph (usually embodied by the Topic Sentence) is very often located at the beginning of a paragraph.

@ paragraph level
@Paragraph Level

Guiding Questions:

What is the Author’s Intention?

How does this Paragraph Support the Thesis?

Does this Paragraph relate to the Previous Paragraph?

If this is done for Every Paragraph – you will have an idea of :

HOW each paragraph supports the writers’ thesis

HOW the writer connects information across paragraphs.

@paragraph level1
@Paragraph Level

Identifying Key Meaning Relations:

Claims – General Statements (Problem/Solution, Reason/Result, Cause/Effect, Comparison/Contrast).

Counter Claims – (But, On the other hand, However).

Elaboration – Evidence (Factual), Supporting Ideas, Examples, Explanation.

Conclusion – Comment, Resolution, Evaluation, Re-statement, Problem/Question.

arrangement of key ideas
Arrangement of Key Ideas
  • The key ideas could be arranged in the following set pairs:
  • Topic/Time
  • Compare/ Contrast
  • Cause- Effect
  • Problems/ Solutions
  • Reasons- whys, ways, hows etc.
  • The ability to deconstruct these elements will help you to zero in on the key arguments embedded in an article or speech.
tackling the application question
Tackling the Application Question
  • Pay close attention to the requirements.
    • How many parts does the question have?
    • What does the question require you to do?
  • Read the article/watch the video carefully.
  • Formulate a stance based on the key ideas in the article/speech.
    • This is usually embodied by the Thesis Statement and Topic Sentences as well as the accompanying (often selective) use of facts and lexical choices.
  • Utilise concrete examples and synthesise established ideological arguments to support your stand