How English Reading Can Help You Predict the Future

Okay, that title is a bit silly but stay with me here.  If there’s one skill that English reading can make you good at, it’s predicting.  What does ‘predicting’ mean?  It means that you can know the future.  The best thing about it is that you don’t need any special powers.  You just need to learn to predict.

In our advanced level academic readings, you’ll notice that we have a new type of question added to our quizzes.  These are called “prediction” questions as in: “What would you predict as the topic of the next paragraph?”

These are common questions in standard English tests.  So they’re important to master.  But even if you’re not studying English, prediction is an important skill.  It means that you understand the general “flow” an article.  You see what the writer is talking about and you know where he’s going.

Most good writing is organized a central idea or main point.  Predicting is all about understanding the core of a writer’s thoughts. If you read enough, you can start to see similar patterns in writing, even stuff that’s written by different authors.

Take our article on “Endangered Species” for example.  The writer starts off by giving an introduction to the issue, then goes in more detail about the central problem and why it occurs.  After that, he talks about some possible solutions.  Now let’s take another article on a completely different topic and see how it flows.  In “Urban Planning”, we see a similar pattern.  The writer introduces the topic, goes further into detail about it and talks about the problem of poorly planned cities and how people have tried to solve it.  See the similarities?

Not all articles have this kind of pattern but, in general, if you think about the main points of each paragraph as you read, you should be able to get a general sense of what the writer might talk about next.  For example, if you can see that the author spends a great deal of time talking about the history of an issue, you can probably predict that the author is going tell us about the distant past up to the recent past, discuss the present situation, and then talk about the future.  Again, this is all about seeing and understanding the “big picture” of a reading and it’s something that requires some practice to get better at.  The next time you read an article or a book, try to spend some time thinking of what the author might write about next.

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