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Using context clues – An inexhaustible treasury for vocabulary learning

Second language vocabulary acquisition is important for learners who frequently acquire impoverished lexicons despite years of formal study. This paper deals with the «guessing strategy», one of the most appreciated methods that helps students discover the meaning of an unfamiliar word they come across. The research reviews the values and efficiency of this approach, as well as its advantages in relation to other methods of vocabulary learning. The paper describes the significance of context clues and information they offer about the meaning of an unknown word. Different types of contextual clues have been described and examples are provided for each type. It was decided to include students to find out what type of context practice suits them best. They were provided with exercises containing similar vocabulary, but different context clues to discover which of these they were going to be the most successful at, and whether there the final results would differ. Some indicators confirm that the level of language competence plays an important role in guessing, and that insufficient vocabulary can prevent learners from discovering the meaning of unknown words. The reasons for some theorists' neglect of the positive effects of this method are also introduced. The conclusion states that the strategy of guessing gives positive results whenever it is available. Teachers must avoid unrestrained use of this particular method, because in certain cases, it may easily become the cause of frustration and demotivation, instead of enhancing general comprehension.


Marijana Jurisic    
Sveučilišni odjel za stručne sudije

Ivana Vodogaz    
Sveučilišni odjel za stručne studije


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