Understanding Purpose-Related Questions in Visual Text Comprehension

Hi everyone, today, our post will focus on understanding purpose-related questions in visual texts.

Understanding Purpose-Related Questions in VTC

Visual Texts: An Introduction

In the world today, visual texts are used to convey messages and communicate ideas in a variety of ways. These texts include print media such as posters and flyers as well as non-print ones like websites and online advertisements.

Why is it important for us to get used to viewing and understanding visual texts? One obvious reason is the fact that we are surrounded by visual texts in vast quantities and as a result, it is crucial that we learn to process and think critically about the messages that they present to us, similar to how we process and interpret written texts.

Mastering visual comprehension skills will also help us score for Paper 2, whether in the PSLE or the ‘O’ Levels, since this particular set of questions tests our ability to view and understand the visual text presented. Even though there is a wide range of visual texts, the question and answer techniques are similar and can be applied across the different texts.

For a start, today we will be sharing with you the purpose of the different types of visual texts and how to answer purpose-related questions.

Purpose in Visual Texts

Similar to a written text, a visual text is also created for a purpose. Some of the more common purposes include to inform, to entertain and to persuade. Let’s now take a look at the different visual texts and the specific purposes behind their creation:

1. To inform
Some visual texts are created with the aim of disseminating information. One such text is the newsletter as its purpose is to provide factual and accurate information that is undisputable on a regular basis. Think about the school newsletter you receive and how it contains information of the people and events related to your school. Sometimes, a newsletter serves to educate the public on vital information that comes from the government, for instance the REACH Bytes E-newsletter (link: https://www.reach.gov.sg/).

Other texts that can be used to increase awareness of specific issues include posters, notices, flyers, brochures and webpages. An example would be a flyer about how smoking is illegal at public areas like bus stops and taxi stands. This serves as an informative flyer to educate and remind the public about acts that break the law and the consequences that may be served to those who break it.

2. To persuade
These visual texts want readers to take action, for instance, to get them to watch a movie, take part in an activity or attend an event. Such texts include reviews, testimonials, brochures and posters. An example would be a brochure about a newly built university to showcase its campus and the courses it offers to potential undergraduates who are seeking to enrich themselves with more knowledge and obtain a degree.

3. To advertise
Some visual texts promote a service, product or even an organisation. These usually include but are not limited to flyers, posters, advertisements as well as brochures. Such texts usually include colourful images and persuasive language aimed at attracting the readers to buy the product or service being advertised.

4. To instruct
Visual texts like recipe books and instruction manuals fall in this category. They contain important steps with accompanying pictures to teach readers how to do something, like how to bake a cake or repair a car. The textbooks that you have for the different subjects in school are excellent examples of such a text.

How to Answer Purpose-Related Questions

A type of question that is often asked for visual text comprehension is related to purpose, for example:

• What is the objective of this poster?
• What does this brochure aim to achieve?

Let’s use the following example to learn the steps! Take a look at this poster:


Image from: Gov.SG

Step 1: Study the visual text carefully. This includes text as well as images.
The title of the poster clues us in that these are the 7 habits that people who are highly hygienic would practice. Each numbered information and accompanying image further supports this by giving details on what each of these 7 habits are. Besides that, there is also an image of a QR code that the reader can scan to find out the latest information about COVID-19. This tells me that this poster is created in relation to the current pandemic that we are in.

Step 2: Locate the creator or author of the text. This usually tells us a lot about why the text is created.
In this instance, the logo gov.sg found in the right bottom corner tells us that the poster is created by the Singapore government. Now ask yourself, why would the government create a poster about the 7 habits of highly hygienic people during a pandemic?

Step 3: Connect the content to the purpose and use a purpose-related word to answer the question e.g. to warn, to inform etc.
Since the poster shows the 7 habits practised by people who are highly hygienic and it is created by the government during a pandemic, I can safely infer that its purpose is to encourage Singaporeans to practise these 7 habits so as to keep themselves clean and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We hope that today’s post has helped those of you who are struggling with understanding purpose in visual texts. As a general tip, do expose yourself to different types of visual texts and ask yourself what the message and purpose of each visual text is. That would be a great way to start becoming a more critical reader and hone your analytical skills! In time, you will feel more confident to deal with any visual text that comes your way!

Ms. Velvet

As a teacher, Ms Velvet believes in sharing her love for reading to her students and encouraging them to be confident speakers. Therefore, she incorporates lively discussions on meaningful topics in her lessons to impart knowledge to her students. She believes that in order to do well, one needs to be interested in learning, so she ensures that her lessons are meaningful and thought-provoking so that students can learn earnestly.

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