Reading – Using Context in Search for Meaning

The use of Contextual Clues can be one of the best ways to improve students’ reading skills. Unfortunately, students often insist on understanding each word when reading. Realizing that a text can be understood in a general sense by using contextual clues can go a long way towards helping students cope with increasingly difficult texts. At the same time, the use of contextual clues can also provide a means by which students can rapidly increase their existing vocabulary base.

Reading Clues

Deduction – What does the sentence concern? Which words does the unknown word seem to relate to?

Part of Speech – Which part of speech is the unknown word? Is it a verb, noun, preposition, adjective, time expression or something else?

Chunking – What do the words around the unknown word(s) mean? How could the unknown word(s) relate to those words? – This is basically deduction on a more local level.

Vocabulary Activation – When quickly skimming through the text, what does the text seem to concern? Does the layout (design) of the text give any clues? Does the publication or type of book give any clues to what the text might be about? Which words can you think of that belong to this vocabulary category?

Exercise 1:

Instruction: Make logical guesses about the meaning of the bold words in the following paragraph.


Jack quickly entered the didot and cleaned the various misturaes he had been using to repair the wuipit. He had often thought that this job was extremely yullning. However, he had to admit that this time things seemed to be a bit easier. When he finished, he put on his redick and went back to the study to relax. He took out his favourite pipe and settled into the beautiful new pogtry. What a fantastic schnappy he had made when he had bought the pogtry. Only 300 yagmas!

  1. What could a ‘didot’ be?
  2. What part of speech is ‘misturaes’?
  3. If Jack used the ‘misturaes’ to repair the ‘wuipit’ what do you think the ‘mistraes’ must be?
  4. What could ‘yulling’ mean? – What part of speech is often used with an ending ‘-ing ‘?
  5. Which synonym could be used for ‘ yulling ‘?

· fun

· difficult

· expensive

7.      What type of things do you put on?

8.      Based on the above question, what kind of thing must a ‘redick’ be?

9.      Is a ‘pogtry’ used inside or outside?

10.  Which words let you know that the ‘pogtry’ was cheap?

11.  What must ‘yagmas’ be?

· Clothes

· Cigarette type

· Type of money



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