Working on context clues in the foreign language classroom

Working with context clues in the FL classroom

As I continue to work on interpretive reading, I have found more and more that I want to work on learning how to teach some literacy skills.  (A summer professional development perhaps?)  This most recent quiz, we did a little work on context clues.  Some of the students really struggled on figuring out the context of the words.  I realized that I needed to do more work on some of these skills.  Plus these skills will not only help them in Spanish class but with reading in general.  Here are some of the techniques that I plan to implement with our readings during the rest of the year:

  • One teacher told me that I should remind to kids to look at the whole paragraph first identifying words that they know before concentrating on the specific sentence where the word is located.  They should be able to say what the theme is of the paragraph to help them identify the word.
  • I need my students to look at the structure of the article more in the beginning.  Many times, I feel like they overlook subtitles and that is where some of the questions arise.  If they paid attention to the subtitles, it would help them classify the information in the paragraphs.
  • Also, a few context clues allow for brief pop-up grammar regarding the part of speech.  That will help students determine the word as well.
  • Once the student has a prediction, then students can put the word back into the sentence to see if it makes sense or not.  In addition, it would be good to have students give a reason as to why a word should work in the sentence.  Again, the more that they think about the meaning, the more it will help them.
  • Once I have worked with some of these strategies, I can do a pre-reading activity. I have seen something similar done with an educational consultant, but it would be good to give students a prediction of context definitions before reading.  Once they read the story or article, they could determine if the definitions were accurate or not.  For example, if you were looking at 3 target words, you could give them one or two definitions that matched and one or two definitions that were incorrect.  Students predict which ones are correct and which ones are incorrect.  When they read the words in the story, they decide if the original definitions are true or false.

Overall, I think the biggest thing is not to do ALL of these strategies at once, but the more I work with reading, the more I believe that I need to continue to teach students these skills.  As I work with more and more readings, I can complete one or two of these things to reiterate how to work with words in context.  What are some strategies that you like to employ with context clues?  I would love to add some more to my bag of tricks!


3 thoughts on “Working on context clues in the foreign language classroom

  1. The suggestion to have them plug the word back into the sentence (or sentences, if it occurs multiple times) after they have a guess seems like a great one! I am going to apply this to my French “study” 🙂

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