I went to watch a movie; I read a novel; I watched a play; I listened to a speech; I read a letter; I observed a labourer... I remembered them all! I was asked about the Movie-Novel-Play-Speech-Letter-Labourer and I was able to respond to them, about all of them!
I had observed them, remembered and reflected upon and have been relating the cumulative learnings to things I see around. Seeing, Observing, Retaining, Reflecting and Sharing further is what we call 'UNDERSTANDING' things. To Comprehend (Understand) is what makes us human and Comprehension Skills are the prerogative of the Human only.
We might have met the term 'comprehension' in the academic domain when we entered the school classrooms and the worthy English subject teacher introduced us to some twenty-thirty lines written together, followed by some sentences that ended with 'signs of interrogation'. There were 5-7 questions in the 'Unseen Passage' and we were staring at the 'unseen' with curiosity as to what will be accomplished by us now. In those questions, some started with the is/are, some with the 'wh' family, a few asked us to make sentences with selected phrases. We might have tried to make 'new' sentences from the already available sentence in the passage. Friends were a great help in this, a few times when doing the class exercises, we failed to reach anywhere and some hint was needed. Writing synonyms or antonyms of a few given words was also there in the list of questions. There was less choice in the questions, as most of them were compulsory and were to be attempted. We travelled from the schools' classroom to entrance tests and later entered new lecture halls. Still, comprehension remains alive.
We need to understand the logic behind these skills or activities. It is not without any sign that the Indian government, UPSC and Civil Services Aspirants are into clashes. The English Comprehension is the troubled bone between them. The fight speaks of the ability or the inability of one or the another. There is no denying that we need more precision in our comprehension skills.
Comprehension Skills are of two types, as per the two receptive faculties we have (Eyes and Ears): Reading Comprehension and Listening Comprehension
We have been attempting Reading Comprehension, now Listening one is also to be studied and practiced.
Let us first know a few observations about comprehension skills, reading and listening to comprehend, reading a passage for evaluation purpose etc.
The Reader and the Writer
There are two stakeholders in this process:
- Writer (Speaker) and
- Reader (Listener)
They make it happen. One generates information, that is why the latter receives it. The onus of making the content 'comprehensible' starts with the writer or the speaker. The content must be able to facilitate 'question creation' in the mind of the reader or the listener. We need to acknowledge that our mind saves/stores information which is actually 'responses' or 'replies' to possible/assumed questions. In the same manner, the creator has to write something which prompts the reader to ask/raise questions to the writer or to himself.
This seems to be a complicated task, but this is what we have been doing all these years of our reading and listening. We remember the storyline of the novel or a movie that has been able to make us think. We think only when we have something to remember or retain. The unseen passage had to be 'comprehensible' and must be able to make the reader 'attempt'. A failure in finding the answers is not the objective, rather it aims at developing 'intensive reading' in the reader. Extensive reading remains a poor choice for reading comprehension assignments.
EklavyaParv 3D Test of Comprehension Competence; there are THREE Participants involved:
- Write a Passage based on a selected theme and use selected terms.
- Pass this passage to the neighbour to compose Questions based on the text written by you.
- The 'Question Writer' will pass it on to the third person, who shall be writing replies/answers to the questions.
- Return the completed assignment (Passage, Questions, and Answers) to the First who wrote the passage.
- The First Dimension Creator will check the Questions and then Answers. It is to be checked whether the Question Writer was able to create 'good quality questions' and has done justice to the writer's intentions.
- It shall also be checked if the 'Answer Writer' has failed or has successfully given understandable responses to the questions or not.
One must note that the Writer should write something that can be understood and people reading it raises questions. If a text is able to facilitate the generation of valid questions and apt answers, the text is good in comprehension and clarity. If not, you know what it is. The tag for proper content is 'Comprehensible Content'.
Movie EXAMPLE- Inception: How many of us can make someone listen and understand the story/plot of the movie? I assume not many of us can claim, as it belongs to a different genre. Yet those who have understood the movie and can make it comprehensible are the ones who have understood the 3D.
Comprehension Skills are part of Reading Skills.
We shall be discussing the Types of Reading, Techniques and various other aspects of reading and comprehension skills.
Summarising and Paraphrasing, Scanning, and Skimming are integral to it.
Comprehension Skills mean a Mastery over the Receptive and Expressive Communication Content.