Reading Skills Tips

04 December, 2019 Tips and Vocabulary Harriet Bussell


Reading Skills – Word Attack!

Feedback from learners I have taught in the past has been that they don’t feel confident in their reading skills, and when reading in class, tend to misunderstand seemingly simple sentences and vocabulary frequently, making it hard for them to get a grasp of the overall meaning of the piece of writing. 


Word attack Strategies

Strategies for deducing word meaning such as morphology, or context.  Readers are able to look at the word and use their prior knowledge to infer the meaning of unfamiliar lexis.   According to Nuttall (1996): 

  • By using a dictionary 
  • Structural cues - By decoding the word by looking at the grammatical structure of the whole sentence. Is it a noun, an adjective or a verb?  
  • Context cues - By using context of the sentences surrounding the word.  What is it referring to?  What’s the context of the sentence? 
  • By ignoring unneeded lexis – Is the word needed or does the reader have enough of an understanding to leave it and move on? 


A simple checklist for students could be as follows:

  • What kind of word is it? (Noun? Adjective? Verb?) 
  • What is the word referring to? (eg: What is the subject before “popping out”?) 
  • Is there a description of the word? (eg: what does a bitten apple look like? Could the sun or moon look similar?) 
  • Is there a comparison? (eg: We were so worried but the whole thing…) 
  • What’s the feeling surrounding the word? (eg: When there were “Whoops” how were the people feeling?) 
  • When you say the word aloud does it sound like something? (eg: say “whoop”, do you ever make a sound like that?) 

By using and becoming familiar with this check list learners would be able to become autonomous in their reading development and become more efficient and successful readers.

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