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Copy of Guessing the Meaning of Words from Context

ELIN 801 Seminar

Sima Piril Sen

on 6 February 2015

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Transcript of Copy of Guessing the Meaning of Words from Context

Guessing the
Meaning of Words From Context

Thank you for your attention!
Guessing Meaning From Context is an example of:
What is it?
Principles Involved
By Jessica Rowan, Amanda Barber, and Liam Campbell
Does guessing lead to vocabulary learning? - Peter Gu
Advantages, Challenges and Controversies
Background, Guessing Meaning of Words from Context and Principles
Birch, B. M. (2002). English L2 Reading: Getting to the Bottom. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum
Nation, I.S.P. (2009). Teaching ESL/EFL Reading and Writing. New York: Routledge
Nation, I.S.P. & Newton, J. (2009). Teaching ESL/EFL Listening and Speaking. New York: Routledge
Dycus, D. (1997). Guessing Word Meaning from Context: Should We Encourage It? Literacy Across Cultures, 1(2), 356-362
Implementing 'Guess Work' Strategies in Class
Reading in a Foreign Language
One of the main concerns of researchers
Students in a second language academic environment need to develop reading skills to obtain information.
Huckin & Block (1993)
Readers make use of vocabulary knowledge for reading comprehension
Largest obstacle to overcome is the lack of vocabulary knowledge
So, how do we help students?
Get students to look closely at an unknown word
Then look at its immediate context
Then take a much broader view of how the clause containing the word relates to other clauses, sentences, or paragraphs
After guessing, there is a simple system of checks to make sure that the guess is the best possible.
Nation: There are several ways of practising the strategy, but all require a text where there is not a heavy density of unknown words.

This procedure involves the learners making a guess at the meaning of an unknown word in a text and then justifying their guesses.
This procedure involves looking at the available clues – the part of the speech of the unknown word, its immediate context, and the relationship between the clause with the unknown word and the adjoining clauses.
Language Focused Learning
Davies, Paul and Eric Pearse. Success in English Teaching. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Farrell, Thomas S.C and George M. Jacobs. Essentials for Successful English Language Teaching. London and New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2010.
Gairns, Ruth and Stuart Redman. Working with Words; A Guide to Teaching and Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
Nation, I.S.P. Teaching and Learning Vocabulary. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers, 1990.
—. Teaching and Learning Vocabulary. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers, 2008.
—. Teaching ESL/EFL: Reading and Writing. New York: Routledge, 2009.
Rothenberg, Carol and Douglas Fisher. Teaching English Language Learners: A Different Approach. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc, 2007.
Safari, Vicki. “Nonsense Words.” Richards, Jack C. New Ways in Teaching Vocabulary. Ed. Paul Nation. Virginia: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc, 1994. 175.
Vale, David and Anne Feunteun. Teaching Childen English; A Training Course for Teachers of English to Children. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Clarke, D.F. and Nation, I.S.P. (1980). Guessing the Meaning of Words from Context: Strategy and Techniques. System, 8(3), 211-220
Honeyfield, J. (1977). Word Frequency and the Importance of Context in Vocabulary Learning. RELC Journal, 8(2), 35-42
Saragi, T., Nation, I.S.P., & Meister, G.F. (1978). Vocabulary Learning and Reading. System, 6(2), 72-78
Seibert, L.C. (1945). A Study of the Practice of Guessing Word Meanings from a Context. Modern Language Journal, 29, 296-323
Weinman, J. (1979). Cloze Testing of Second Langauge Learners. English Langauge Teaching Journal, 33(2), 126-132
Liu Na & Nation, I.S.P. (1985). Factors affecting guessing vocabulary in context. RELC Journal, 16(1), 33-42

Summary of contents
Beare, Kenneth. (2012). ESL Reading Lesson - Using Context for Reading Literacy, 2012, http://esl.about.com/od/readinglessonplans/a/l_readcontext.htm (accessed 20 January 2012)
Janzen, J. and Stoller, F. (1998). Integrating strategic reading in L2 instruction. Reading in a Foreign Language. 12, 1
Nation, I.S.P. (1990). Teaching and Learning Voabulary. New York.
Nation, I.S.P. (2009). Teaching ESL/EFL Listening and Speaking. New York.
Nation, I.S.P. (2009). Teaching ESL/EFL Reading and Writing. New York.
Selcuk, Ilksen Buyukdurmus, Guessing Vocabulary from Context in Reading Texts, 2006, http://www.belgeler.com/blg/pkg/guessing-vocabulary-from-contex-in-reading-texts-okuma-parcalarinda-kelimeleri-baglamdan-tahmin-etme (accessed 22 January 2012)
Waters, M. and Waters, A. (1995)., Study Tasks in English, CUP.
Huckin, T., and Bloch, J. (1993). Strategies for inferring word-meanings in context: A cognitive model. In T, Huckin, M. Haynes & J. Coady, (Eds.). Second language reading and vocabulary learning. (pp. 153-176). Norwood.
Add directly to implicit knowledge
Raise consciousness to help later learning
Focus on systematic aspects of the language
Used to develop strategies
Give deliberate attention to language features
Process the language features in deep and thoughtful ways
Opportunities to give spaced, repeated attention to the same features
Simple features and not dependent on developmental knowledge
Features studied should also occur in the other three strands
Deliberate attention to language features in context of meaning-focused input and meaning-focused output, and in contextualised learning and teaching.
-Feedback when deliberately learning new vocabulary for receptive or productive use
-Practice spelling
-Concentrate on learning to write or form written letter of the alphabet
-When studying grammar or discourse features
But: It musn't take up more than 25 percent of the total course time.
The clues that are in the clause or sentence in which an unknown word occurs

The clues that are in the immediately surrounding sentences or clauses

The information that has been built up so far from all of the previous parts of the text

Knowledge of the nature of such text

Background content information from outside the text

The reader’s common sense knowledge of the world

The morphological forms of the unknown word. i.e. word families

(Nation, Teaching and Learning Vocabulary, 1990,2008)

1. Look at the unknown word and decide on its part of speech, that is to say, is it a verb, noun, adjective or adverb?
2. Look at the clause containing the unknown word. This can involve the ‘what does what?’ technique where learners are given a word from the text and they have to put it in the simplest context possible using the information from the text.
3. Work out the relationship between the adjoining clauses and the clauses containing the unknown word.
4. Have a guess
5. Check the guess, by looking at the part of speech of the guess, by substituting the guess for the unknown word, by breaking the word into parts and relating their meaning to the guessed meaning, and if still unsure, by checking the word in dictionary.

(Nation, 1980; 2008, 75-76)

Providing a relevant context for new information facilitates comprehension and learning by way of activating the learner’s schema.

Researchers into vocabulary learning agree on the following:
a. Teachers need to vary the ways in which new vocabulary is presented. Either by reading, writing, listening and speaking, learners have the opportunity to not only to learn new words, but learn ways of implementing it, and
b. Formation of schema through 'collocational links' and 'topical links' are important for vocabulary to be learnt

How it works:
applies students’ own knowledge of the world , together with such understanding of the contextual language as they have gained so far
Why it works:
engages students in active learning through clue solving

How to design a good activity:
Put vocabulary to be learned into a particular context with which students will be familiar. Give practice in using the words in related and varied contexts

The purpose of the technique:
help students to remember the words with an understanding of their meaning and ability to use them in various contexts

Can you turn the 'zong' on? It is cold in here.

The ladies’ hats were decorated with massive ostrich feathers.

In this sentence ‘ostrich’ is a:

An instrument
A tree
A bird

The purpose for having a systematic strategy is to make sure that all the important clues are covered and that learners become sensitive to clues so that they are able to apply the process in the future. (Nation)

Previous Studies
and Practitioner Recommendations
Lu and Nation (1985)

Results: learning this vocabulary strategy is best done by the class as a whole rather than individually.

Recommendations: at first learners should work on verbs and nouns with plenty of understandable contexts.
Seibert (1945)

Results: "without context to check the meaning of the words, etymology, when faulty, may be a dangerous tool" (1945:300)

Saragi et al. (1978)

Results: a large quantity of words can be learnt through using the Guessing Words in Context strategy without having to use a dictionary or glosary

Clarke and Nation (1980)

Results: learners with a vocabulary of around 3,000 words are capable of guessing around 60-70% of the unknown words in a reading passage.

Challenges in Implementation

Errors learners make - part of speech + word parts

Students often avoid using the strategy because of its cognitive load

Usually only successful in reading not listening

Modified cloze activities
Initially focus on the situational context and move
to the linguistic context when learners are more able
What does what?
Co-operative class exercise

1. Insufficient time in course to go over all low-frequency vocabulary

2. Words need to be met in context

3. Time saving

4. Necessary for dictionary use

5. Developing the skill of 'reading'

Clarke and Nation (1980)
How the principle relates
One of the most useful ways in which the course can support extensive reading is by providing training in reading faster.

Extensive reading programmes can contribute to proficiency development through vocabulary growth, which is encouraged by making the vocabulary learning more deliberate and less incidental.
Janzen and Stoller
Four principles
Choose texts carefully
Plan in advance
Adapt while teaching
Keep track of strategies used
Guessing meaning from context creates exactly this outcome.
By using this technique, students can realise that a text can be understood in general, which helps them cope with incresingly difficult texts.
Students can then read and decipher words independently, and are prepared for the vocabulary in TOEFL etc.
In hindsight...
My own experience with teaching in 801
Does guessing lead to vocabulary learning? - Peter Gu
You have to decide...
Nation, I.S.P. (1990). Teaching and Learning Vocabulary. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers
801 Teaching - Reading
'School Bans Hugging and High-Fives'
Learnt a lot
Full transcript