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Reading Skill 4


Reading Skill 4
Guessing Meanings of Words from Context

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Input In order to understand what you are reading from an English text, you need to guess the meaning of unfamiliar words (words you do not know) from the context. This will help you read faster and easier. Do Exercise 1 before studying how you can guess the meaning of vocabulary from context.

Choose the best answer for each question. How have you got them right?
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1. She had often come into conflict with her mother-in-law. a) announcement b) attainment c) argument 2. The old woman’s blunt questions embarrassed her, making her momentarily tongue-tied. a) emit b) ashamed c) loathe 3. We just need a couple more chairs so everyone can sit down. a) one b) two c) three 4. Please, Uncle Jack, give me a piggyback! a) a ride on someone back or shoulder b) a small bag c) people who arrived to settle in Bangkok 2000 5. Ladda does not like to eat papaya or carrots, which is high in vitamin A, so she lacks it. Her mother keeps telling her that an inadequate supply of vitamin A can lead to blindness. a) too big b) not enough c) full

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There are many ways to help you guess the meaning of unfamiliar words from the context. Read the explanation below and study the examples.

1. Definition
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1. Inflation is a rise in the general level of prices you pay for things you buy. an unfamiliar word = inflation signal word = is the definition = a rise in the general level of prices you pay for everything you buy. 2. Someone who explores and studies caves is known as a spelunker. an unfamiliar word = spelunker signal words = is known as definition = someone who explores and studies caves

2. Restatement
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The surface of Africa consists mainly of plateaus, or large flat areas, although these occur at different levels. an unfamiliar word = plateaus signal word = or meaning = large flat areas

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Definition A definition gives the meaning of words. The writer may use words, phrases, or statements to define something. The writer will use key words, or signal words to identify a definition so you need to look for them. See examples of key words below. Key words is/are means/mean;is/are called;what this means is ;is/are known as; consist of ;is/are defined as; refer to; is/are described as may be seen as

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1. According to Indian custom, a great dowry of money and objects is given to the bridegroom, in other words, it is a dot. dot = ______________________________________ 2. There are several types of aerosol cans. Simple ones contain a liquefied gas, called the propellant, in which material is dissolved, i.e., melt. dissolved =__________________________________ 3. Our youth nowadays should not engage in intoxicating things such as alcohol, cigarettes, and tranquilizers, that is to say, they should not ingest them. engage =___________________________________

2. Restatement The writer may use other words, phrases, or sentences to provide the meaning of difficult words. We call this restatement; the writer describes it again or in a different way. Signal words for restatement are in the “Key words box” below.
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Key words or/that is to say/in other words i.e. or that is

3. Example
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Use navigation buttons, such as, the “Next” button, the “Previous” button, the “Menu” button, and the “Exit” button, to go back and forth or jump to other topics while you are using your English software. unfamiliar words = navigation buttons signal word = such as meaning = buttons on computer program that are used for turn on pages

1. Some people in the North of Thailand do wickerwork, for example, they make elephants, turtles, plates, beds, and chairs, from teak trees for earning money. a) silver handicraft b) bronze handicraft c) niello handicraft d) wood handicraft 2. The Savanna grasslands are the home of grazing animals such as elephants, giraffes, antelopes and zebras. Lions, leopards and hyenas also live there. a) non-backbone animals b) meateating animals c) invertebrate animals d) grass-eating animals 3. A tourist guide advised them to see the elephant round up. There was racing, colorful war procession, marching, kicking a ball and tug-of-war(拔河) between men and elephants. a) show b) breed c) sleep d) born

Examples Examples help us to understand the meaning of new words. See key words or signal words used for showing examples in the “Key words box”. Key works such as, like for example, …for instance, is / are

4. Contrast
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Althrough Dara and Vipa are very close friends but they are very different. Suda spends a lot of money to buy things while Vipa loves to economize. a) spend more money b) save money c) buy things more than before d) keep things in a safe place

Use signal words as your clues to find the meaning of the underlined words by choosing the best answer for each question. Circle signal words.
1. Ladda was promoted to be the chief secretary of the manager of the company, whereas her colleague, Somechai, was penalized. a) promoted b) punished c) exiled d) rewarded 2. Although small pox has almost been eradicated. Malaria is prevalent in Kanchanaburee, Thailand. A policeman just died from the PF (Plasmodium Falsiparum) malaria last month. a) destroyed completely b) common found c) fear of disease d) furbish 3. The plane is scheduled to leave for Phuket at 7:00 am but the plane departure has been postponed for two hours. That is to say, it will leave at 9:00 am instead. a) retard b) stop c) extend d) went back

Contrast
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You can guess the meaning of new words by using signal words of contrast. They will show the opposite meaning of the new words. See key words or signal words of contrast in the “Key words box”. Key words but instead of even though in contrast to, yet in spite of although as opposed to, unlike despite however on the other hand, whereas

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5. Similarity
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Indonesia is producing Ford cars and trucks. Soon, Thailand and Vietnam will be producing the same products with, no doubt, the same quality. What does the words “the same products” mean? ___________________________ What is your clue? ____________________________________ _______________

Similarity
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You can guess the meaning of new words by using signal words of similarity. They will display the same meaning of the new words. See key words or signal words of similarity in the “Key words box”. Key words like/ similarly/ in the same way /as the same as just as

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1. Learning should not be limited to the classroom or with teachers. We can learn by ourselves about things that are not taught by teachers. Similarly, “self-learning” is encouraged for our education system. What does the words “self-learning” mean? __________________________________ _________________________________________________________ ____________ 2. Thailand and South Korea have made a break-through in developing a new technology that enables high-speed Internet connections, just as phone service links are made efficiently through electric power lines. Both countries have joined hands to do business. What do the words “high-speed Internet connections” mean? _____________________ _________________________________________________________ ____________

6. Surrounding words
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Children are too young to understand that swallowing gum can cause medical problems and so they shouldn't be allowed to chew it, doctors say. unfamiliar words: swallowing and chew What do these words mean? How do you guess their meaning?

1. Professor Boonmee of the Thai Business Commerce School (TBC), Bangkok, had to do a presentation in Khonkaen and Bangkok on the same day, to be sure that he would be back to Bangkok on time, he bought a round trip ticket. a) one way ticket b) two way ticket 2. In Bangkok on Monday morning, most streets are very crowded, so Penporn came to school late because she was trapped in traffic. a)not able to move b) caught 3. The accountant clerks are responsible to check for false signatures, thus they needed to verify all cheques with the original signature before paying the money. a) fake b) true

Surrounding words
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If you cannot find any signal words or key words as stated before, you may look around new words or unfamiliar words and try to guess them. The surrounding words may help you to understand the new words.

7. Experience and background knowledge
1. Most Thais are Buddhists and they usually make merit by giving donations, listening to sermons, giving food, and meditating on religious days. a) do good things b) work hard 2. Thailand has never been under the yoke of any other country. We are proud to have our own language, culture and tradition. a) dependable b) ruled by

Experience and background knowledge
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Reading researchers confirmed that experience and background knowledge play an important role in reading comprehension. As EFL (English as a Foreign Language) students, you may read related Chinese texts to gain knowledge before reading the English text.

8. Imagination
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A father examined his son’s report card and suffered mild cardiac tremors as he saw a solid column of D and F grades. Outraged that a product of his genes could so disgrace the family, he confronted his son and said, “Dave, this just won’t do. I can’t tolerate these grades, and if you don’t show me an immediate turn-around, you’re going to be grounded!” Do you think Dave got good grades or bad grades? ___________________________ Was Dave’s father happy or angry at his school result? ________________________ What is his father going to do with him? ____________________________________

Now, find the meaning of words below
What does the words “suffering mild cardiac tremors” mean? a) very angry b) about to die of a heart attack c) very sad 2) What does the words “disgrace” mean? a) please b) shame c) disappoint 3) What does the words “tolerate” mean? a) give b) borrow c) admit 4) What does the words “turn-around” mean? a) complete change from a very bad situation to a good one b) convert attitude from a positive one to a negative one c) run around when you are unhappy
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