Explicit and Implicit Main Ideas in Narrative Essays
“Moving from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” is the crucial educational pivot.
In the model essay below, here are some points to notice:
- The essay has an introduction that defines the terms that are the focus of the lesson.
- The main idea sentence cames at the end of the introduction.
- The paragraphs in the body of the paper have topic sentences.
- When the writer begins a discussion of a new essay, he identifies the author and title.
- When the writer begins the discussion of a new essay, he states whether he thinks the main idea is implicit or explicit.
- The writer uses quotations from the essays to support or illustrate his ideas.
- The quotations are documented using parenthetical documentation.
- The paper has a conclusion.
- The paper has a works cited entry for each source used and each writer quoted.
The words “explicit” and “implicit” are antonyms, or words that express directly opposite meanings. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, an idea that is explicit is “fully and completely expressed.” It does not require the reader to guess or to infer meaning. For example, imperative statements are explicit. “Shut the window” is an explicit statement since there is no doubt as to the meaning. In contrast, if someone sitting in a room with an open window says, “It is chilly in here,” the implied meaning is that the window should be shut. If a husband reaches for his car keys wearing a dirty tee shirt and his wife says, “Are you ready to go to dinner?” she may be implying that he needs to change his clothes. However, he may infer that she is anxious to leave because it is past the dinner hour or because it has been a long time since they have been to a restaurant and not think about his casual dress. Thus, we see that “A statement can have various implications, which may lead to inferences on the part of the reader” (Guth 626).
Explicit statements are necessary in scientific and legal writing because their purpose is to convey facts and explain events unambiguously. A writer does not want to leave room for misinterpretation. But even when the writing is less formal, it needs explicit statements to convey information clearly. Giving directions, comparing and contrasting, explaining the parts of a device, giving the definition of a term, explaining causes and effects, or telling how to solve a problem, all require explicit language.
Where, then, is there a place for implicit meaning? Informal essays and works of fiction often leave the writer’s meaning implicit, allowing readers to make their own interpretations. An example is a fable, which is a story with a moral at the end. The idea is not expressed explicitly within the story but is appended, made explicit for the purposes of instruction. But writers of fiction usually choose to tell their stories and let the readers draw their own conclusions, understanding that the intended point may be missed or misinterpreted. The enterprise of literary criticism is based on the idea that literary works are inherently ambiguous and that because each reader is unique, he or she may infer a different meaning. Of course, it is also possible for writers to explicitly state their main ideas in stories or essays, but such literary works are less common and are often disparaged as being didactic or polemic. The essays in this week’s assignment illustrate both explicit and implicit main ideas.
practice listening skills in a shorter form, click on one of the following categories that best matches your listening skills (Remember YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PRINT anything)
What do I need to know?
Reading comprehension strategies enable readers not only to make sense of a text but also to think about what they are reading and enter into a mental dialogue with the author. The main comprehension strategies that proficient readers use are:
- making connections between texts and their prior knowledge
- forming and testing hypotheses about texts
- asking questions about texts
- creating mental images or visualising
- inferring meaning from texts
- identifying the writer’s purpose and point of view
- identifying the main idea or theme in a text
- summarising the information or events in texts
- analysing and synthesising ideas, information, structures, and features in texts
- evaluating ideas and information.
Proficient readers use the processing strategies in an integrated way and use more than one comprehension strategy to make maximum meaning from text. For example, in order to infer meaning, the reader has to make connections with prior knowledge, including knowledge of other texts. The reader will also use all the processing strategies, searching, predicting, cross-checking, and self-correcting as they attend to the information in the text. The processing and comprehension strategies are employed in complex combinations, depending on the nature of the text, the reading task, and the individual learner’s pathway of development. Strategic readers use their knowledge and their processing and comprehension strategies to find ideas and information in texts. They draw conclusions and provide evidence from the text to support their statements. They identify cause and effect, sequence ideas and information, and explore the ways in which texts use language to convey information or emotion, to persuade, or to entertain.
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