By DR KOH SOO LING
Deriving meaning from contextual clues
The use of contextual clues helps to improve students’ reading skills. Checking the dictionary in order to understand each word slows down the process of reading. Realising 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. The use of contextual clues can also provide a means by which students can rapidly increase their existing vocabulary base.
For example: Most eskers are argued to have formed within ice-walled tunnels by streams which flowed within and under glaciers. They tended to form around the time of the glacial maximum when the glacier was slow and sluggish.
After the retaining ice walls melted away, stream deposits remained as long winding ridges.
In order to find out what the unknown word “eskers” is, we can make use of the following reading clues.
1. Deduction — What is the paragraph about? Which words does the unknown word seem to relate to? The paragraph is about a certain kind of physical formation. The word “eskers” seems to be related to streams, glaciers, stream deposits and winding ridges.
2. Part of Speech — Which part of speech is the unknown word? Is it a verb, noun, preposition, adjective, time expression or something else? The word “eskers” is a noun.
3. Chunking — What do the words around the unknown word(s) mean? How does/do the unknown word(s) relate to those words? This is basically deduction on a more local level.
The words around “eskers” describe glacial landscape.
4. 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? The text seems to be concerned about a certain type of glacial formation. Therefore, “eskers” would probably mean long winding ridges of stratified sand and gravel, examples of which occur in glaciated and formerly glaciated regions.
What do the underlined words mean? A bog is a wetland that accumulates acidic peat, a deposit of dead plant material — often mosses, or, in Arctic climates, lichens.
Bogs occur where the water at the ground surface is acidic, either from acidic groundwater, or where water is derived entirely from precipitation, when they are termed “ombrotrophic”. Water flowing out of bogs has a character istic brown colour, from dissolved peat tannins. Bogs are very sensitive habitats, of high importance for biodiversity. There are extensive bogs in Canada and Alaska (called muskeg). There are also bogs in Patagonia and the Falkland Islands in the southern hemisphere.
a. accumulates ________________________
b. ombrotrophic _________________________
c. characteristic __________________________
d. extensive __________________________
ANSWERS: a. collects b. rain-fed c. distinct d. large
Source: Learning Curve - New Straits Times
Monday, June 25, 2012
By DR KOH SOO LING
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