EuroCALL 2002, Aug. 14-17

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How Words Mean: Guessing From Context
Several Suggestions for Narrow Reading Tasks

In the midst of a recent TESL-L debate regarding how much new vocabulary ESL students can encounter in their reading without diminishing their ability to guess meanings from contexts, UCLA's Lida Baker sent a clear and practical message to the list. She has submitted her remarks in the following article to share with ESL MiniConference readers.

In response to Dave Kees, who asks for "practical ideas on how to create a 'narrow reading' plan or course for a student" in order to facilitate vocabulary acquisition: I have a couple of ideas. One way is to select a news story and follow it over the course of several days. I have used natural disaster stories (earthquakes, hurricanes) for this purpose with great results. A second and rather obvious idea is to have students read books (as opposed to clusters of unrelated articles - what is normally found in most ESL reading texts). Specialized catalogues (such as clothing catalogues) and food packages expose students to a wide range of vocabulary within notional categories such as color, dimensions, shapes, etc. while also providing lots of repetition, thereby promoting vocabulary acquisition.

Report by Lida Baker
UCLA Extension

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