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How Does A Student Read Contextually? - ETCSINES

How Does A Student Read Contextually?  - ETCSINES

What was your interpretation when you first encountered this statement: “it rained cat and dog yesterday”? Some highly intelligent students would have decoded the meaning, from the outset, to be a very heavy and, perhaps, destructive rain; for others, it was a situation where multitudes of cats and dogs where falling from the sky. The difference between these two categories of students is that the former applied a contextual interpretation to the expression, while the latter gave it a, rather, literal meaning.

I describe contextual reading as “the process and ability of reading the writer’s words through the writer’s eyes.” What do I mean? Not all expressions have a direct and straightforward meaning from the words components; the words might be a symbolic or figurative expression of what the writer is trying to convey. That’s why I said “reading through the writer’s eyes.” 

When I was in secondary school, on a particular day, I went into the school’s library, picked up one of Wole Soyinka’s poems and began to read. It became my worst reading moment because I felt intensely miserable trying to decode the meaning of the expressions I was reading, but I couldn’t. Why? I was unable to read through the writer’s eyes. I couldn’t just fathom what the writer meant by those expressions. 

“Contextual reading” is directly opposite to “literal reading,” in the sense that every word in that expression has a different meaning from the surface. In other words, contextual reading is consistently reading in an intentional context – gaining better retention by applying consistent experiences. It takes a special ability and intelligence to read contextually. How can you attain the height of this ability?
Become acquainted with terminologies and jargon words. The “Royalty” means “a state of being a member of the royal family,” but in publishing, it means “a sum of money that is paid to somebody who has written a book, piece of music, etc.;” in oil and mining, the same word (royalty) means “a payment by an oil or mining company to the owner of the land they are working on.” You see, the word “Royalty” varies in meaning according to the context it is used. If you don’t have an idea of its varied meaning, you inevitably give the word a different meaning, which, in turn, gives an alteration to your interpretation of the entire expression. Science, Communication, Language and Literary studies, Medicine, Law, Engineering, Business, among others are field of studies with their unique terminologies. Be acquainted with them.

Expose yourself to contextual expressions and gain mastery of writing styles. I mentioned earlier that I was unable to comprehend Wole Soyinka’s expressions. The singular reason for this was because I was not used to his writings. Perhaps, that was my first time of reading his works. If I had already been acquainted with his works, I would have gained mastery of how he writes and that would have enabled me to read through his eyes. When you become used to idiomatic expressions, you won’t have difficulty in comprehending them anytime you come across familiar ones.

The best way to read is to study. Are you confused? 80 percent and above of Nigerian students, both at the secondary and tertiary level, who even read at all, do more of reading and not study. Studying is a deliberate process and activity of “detailed examination, experimentation, and further research in other to gain in-depth understanding, mastery and fact.” When you encounter difficulty in comprehending a terminology or an expression, do an in-depth study on it, thereby you grow in knowledge. 

No subject, course or field of study is a Goliath. It only takes a stone and David’s sling to bring it down. So find it!

Writer: Daniel Owa-George

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