Teaching strategies for guessing at new words in language learning.

The following comment is from an exchange amongst language teachers.

“While guessing might not be exactly what’s called for, I’d hope that practitioners would encourage some informed guesses some of the time (working from context, etc etc) – so that learners don’t lose the flow and pleasure of reading, but also have strategies to deal with unknown words/concepts – and don’t freeze and fall into the trap of not moving without a dictionary at every turn.”

I must say I don’t do this. I tend to ignore the unknown word if I am reading away from my computer. I just hope the rest of the context carries the meaning, or most of it, and when I do guess, the guess can be quite wrong. I don’t really think it makes sense to teach a strategy for this.

If I am on the computer and reading in LingQ, I will look up or check the meaning of all words that I do not fully understand, even if I kind of know what they mean. I want confirmation of my understanding of the word.

So, to me the best strategy is, if not on a computer, just ignore the unknown words, and if there are too many of them, stop. If on the computer, which is recommended for difficult texts, look up every word.

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