chapter  7
31 Pages

English for academic purposes in Brazil: the use of summary tasks

Introduction Summarising tasks on reading comprehension tests have a natural appeal in this era of communicative language testing, given that they attempt to simulate real-world tasks in which non-native readers have to read and write a summary of the main ideas of a text. In order to summarise successfully, respondents need both reading and writing skills. First, they must select and utilise effectively those reading strategies appropriate for summarising the source text - identifying topical information, distinguishing superordinate from subordinate material, and identifying redundant as well as trivial information. They must then perform the appropriate writing tasks to produce a coherent text summary - selecting topical information or generating it if none appears explicitly in the text, deleting trivial and redundant material, substituting superordinate terms for lists of terms or sequences of events, and finally, reformulating the content so that it sounds coherent and reads smoothly (Basham and Rounds 1986; Brown, et al. 1981; Brown and Day 1983; Chou Hare and Borchardt 1984; Davies and Whitney 1984; Kintsch and Van Dijk 1978).