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Paul Sparks, Sino-Canadian International College, Guangxi University, Online English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for Reading Lessons...



Reading: Expressing the Main Idea of Reading Material

Lesson Objectives:
To be able to express the main idea of an article or text.

The Main Idea:
Every sentence in a paragraph must contribute to the main idea. Most of the sentences in a paragraph simply support the main idea. Some may state or summarize that idea.

  • The main idea normally appears at the beginning of a text.

  • In short articles the main idea should appear in the first few sentences.

  • In longer articles the main idea will be expressed in the first paragraph.

Group Activity:
In a small group (about 3 people), using the handout (copied below) “Contributing to the Main Idea” complete the 4 tasks:

"Contributing to the Main Idea"

There is one sentence in each of the following paragraphs that does not contribute to the main idea. It does not belong in the paragraph. Underline the sentence that should be removed from each paragraph (answers are shown here):

1. I am looking forward to election day. It’s fun to vote and exciting to watch the election results. I’ll be rooting for my candidate to win and enjoying the suspense if the vote is close. The following day will be a good time to play video games. No matter who wins, an election is a special occasion.

2. April is beginning the lengthy process of choosing a college to attend. She is buying and reading guides to the best schools. She hasn’t completely ruled out working for a year before attending college. She’s checking out the many Websites that provide information for picking the right college or university. She’s even researching the climate of the area of every school she considers.

3. Bill is one of those people who just doesn’t have to worry about gaining too much weight. He is the best tennis player I’ve ever met. Bill can eat any amount of any food he likes without putting on an ounce. He can go for weeks without exercising with no apparent effect. It just doesn’t seem fair!

4. Scientists are learning a great deal about the aging process. This knowledge will allow doctors to help their patients live longer and better lives. They will be able to defeat diseases associated with aging and perhaps even delay the onset of old age. Many doctors would agree that some medicines are much too expensive.



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