Unit 3

Reading Comprehension



Definition of the paragraph

A paragraph is a grouping of sentences that deal with the same idea. The paragraph stars with a capital letter and ends with a period, question mark or exclamation point. Every composition is made of paragraphs.


The paragraph is identified by its form and by its content.
  • The form: In order to begin a paragraph, indent the first sentence by leaving a blank space at the beginning of the first line. Some exceptions are made, where the paragraphs are arranged in blocks against a straight left margin.
  • The content: The paragraph is a group of sentences put together because the ideas they express are connected by the same idea.

An example of the paragraph is the following taken from a page of the Diego Rivera Mural Project:
Diego Rivera's mural at City College is an extraordinary work of Pan American art, a unique combination of an artist in his prime and a critical moment in world history brought together on a monumental scale. It is arguably the most important work of art created in the Bay Area.


Identifying the central idea of a paragraph:

The topic sentence sums up the content that the paragraph is expressing. It is the principal idea about every sentence in the paragraph. This sentence explains and expands upon the main idea of the paragraph.


The topic sentence of the paragraph about the Diego Rivera mural (above) is:“Diego Rivera's mural at City College is an extraordinary work of Pan American art, a unique combination of an artist in his prime and a critical moment in world history brought together on a monumental scale.”


Reading comprehension.
To comprehend reading is to understand what we read. We recognize the main idea and what kind of message the author is communicating. There are many kinds of reading depending upon the content. Reading may be for information, description, narration, persuasion or argument.

Understanding reading.
To understand a composition is to read, analyze and comprehend, and carry away your own opinion.

Here is an example of an informative paragraph:





City College invites you to visit Diego Rivera's Pan American Unity mural. Located on the Phelan campus in the Diego Rivera Theater, the mural can be seen during regular visiting hours.


Here is an example of a narrative paragraph:



Diego Rivera (1886-1957) was one of Mexico's most important painters and a major artist of the twentieth century. Born in 1886 in Guanajuato, Rivera studied traditional European artistic styles at the Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City. Rivera combined this classical training with the influence of Mexican folk artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, emerging as an accomplished painter with a distinctly Mexican style by the age of sixteen.



Exercise 1

Read the following article taken from the Diego Rivera Mural web page:



If life imitates art, then the masterly mural by world-famous artist Diego Rivera, completed in 1940 and situated in the foyer of the College Theatre, was a prediction of student life here. People of diversity, of multicultural backgrounds, and of various occupations are portrayed together, in work and at play, creating a feeling of friendship and accomplishment. That is City College.

Serving the community as the innovative institution of learning that it has been for more than 60 years, City College of San Francisco continues to make a significant contribution to the city of San Francisco and beyond through the achievements of its students.

Among those who have attended City College since its founding in 1935 are San Francisco doctors, lawyers, even its police and fire chiefs. Other notable alumni include many civic and business leaders, television and radio personalities, government officials, renowned educators, famous chefs and acclaimed artists.

With approximately 90,000 students enrolled annually in both credit and non-credit classes, City College of San Francisco has the distinction of being one of the largest community colleges in the country, and it confers the most associate degrees in the arts and sciences in the state.

The transfer rate to a four-year college or university is 7 percent higher than other state community colleges, 8 percent higher nationally. City College transfer students typically go on to pursue professional and academic careers. Other students earn vocational certificates, giving them an edge in the Bay Area’s competitive job market.

City College offers classes from accounting to zoology. There are more than 50 academic programs listed in the current school catalog and more than 150 occupational/vocational disciplines. A student can learn how to fix an automobile or an airplane, manage a restaurant, analyze computer systems or identify malignant cancer cells. The certificate programs range from horticulture to nursing, from computer programming to merchandising.

In the school’s beginning, Latin was still being taught and classes were being held in borrowed space around town. Eventually, civic leaders designated a hilltop in the south-central region of the city -- where Phelan and Ocean Avenue intersect -- as the school’s permanent main campus. The Science Building was the first to open there in 1940, with more educational and athletic facilities added over the years. The most recent building is the Louise and Claude Rosenberg, Jr. Library and Learning Resource Center -- a $22 million architectural masterpiece featuring five floors of books, journals, state-of-the-art computer equipment, learning laboratories and study areas.

In addition to the Phelan campus, there are eight other campus locations in different parts of the city. In total there are 150 neighborhood sites where classes, mainly for adults, are held primarily at nights and on weekends. Some courses are broadcast on cable television, and others are taught at the workplace. Many classes are short-term, taking only up to six weeks, instead of the traditional 16 weeks, to complete. And the best part is that the cost is only $11 per unit for credit classes, noncredit classes are free.



Exercise 2

The following words are found in the article about City College.

Find them in the dictionary and write their definitions.

masterly

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foyer

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prediction

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diversity

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innovative

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Exercise 3

Write a sentence using each of the words above.

(masterly, foyer, prediction, diversity, innovative)

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Exercise 4

Reading comprehension: finding the facts. Analyze and answer the following questions relating to the reading for Exercise 1.

  1. Who painted the masterly mural that is located in City College of San Francisco?


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  3. In what year was the mural painted?


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  5. What was the first building that was constructed at City College in1940?


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  7. Many students who attended College at the time of its founding in 1935 became professionals in our community. What are some of these professions?


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  9. How many academic programs are listed in the current City College catalog?


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  11. How much do you pay for credit classes and for noncredit classes?


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  13. What is the building that was most recently opened on the main campus?


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  15. Where is the main campus of City College of San Francisco located?


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  17. How many other campuses besides the main Phelan Campus are open to the public?


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  19. Can you list the names of all of the other campuses?
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Exercise 5

Reading comprehension: making your own interpretation.

In your own words, answer the following questions.

  1. According to the passage, in what ways does City College of San Francisco serve the community?


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  3. Do you agree that art and sports should be part of a person’s education? Say whether you agree or disagree and explain why.


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Exercise 6

The theme, the main idea,"...it is about the marriage of the artistic expression of the North and of the South on this continent..." - Diego Rivera, 1940


Words by Diego Rivera

Source: Dorothy Puccinelli's interview with Diego Rivera, San Francisco 1940

My mural which I am painting now--it is about the marriage of the artistic expression of the North and of the South on this continent, that is all. I believe in order to make an American art, a real American art, this will be necessary, this blending of the art of the Indian, the Mexican, the Eskimo, with the kind of urge which makes the machine, the invention in the material side of life, which is also an artistic urge, the same urge primarily but in a different form of expression.



In the center of my mural there is a large figure--on one side it has the neck of Quetzalcoatl elements from the Mexican Goddess of Earth and the God of Water. On the other side the figure is made of machinery, the machine which makes fenders and parts for airplanes. On one side of this figure there is the northern culture, on the other the southern art, the art of the emotions. People are working on this figure, artists of the North and South, Mexican and North American. I have also Fulton and Morse, artists who, as well as being painters, invented the tools for the industrial revolution, the telegraph and the steamboat, the means of transporting ideas and materials. From the South comes the plumed serpent, from the North the conveyor belt. So that is my idea which I am trying to express in this mural.



"I believe in order to make an American art, a real American art, this will be necessary, this blending of the art of the Indian, the Mexican, the Eskimo, with the kind of urge which makes the machine..." - Diego Rivera, 1940

1. What is the main idea of the statement by Diego Rivera on the previous page?

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2. Write a paragraph on the following subjects. Each paragraph should be three sentences.

A The art in your country.

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B A type of art that you like.

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C An invention that you think is important:

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