Context and Definitions
Context & Definitions
Throughout our lives, we continue to build our vocabulary. We hear new words when we have a conversation or watch television. We see new words when we read a newspaper or a book. Young children run into new words on a regular basis and they need strategies to help them learn the meanings of those words. Learning definitions online is one way that students can improve their vocabularies. In addition to looking words up in dictionaries and thesauruses, they can now use learning tools like online dictionaries and thesauruses.
Even when students are able to find the definition of a word, they might still be stuck. Dictionaries will often give multiple meanings and it can be difficult for students to determine the correct one. Another strategy that can be used, on its own or in combination with a dictionary, is figuring out meaning using context. This means that students use the context of a sentence, or the words or sentences around it, to figure out the meaning of a word. Consider this example using a nonsense word-
He was so hungry that he didn’t even pour the blonk on his cereal before he ate it.
We don’t even need to know the nonsense word blonk to infer that it means milk. We can use the context of the sentence to figure it out.
Activities that use blanks in a sentence and ask students to figure out the word that would go there, are called cloze activities.
Using context and definition activities like these are a great way to teach different vocabulary lists or topics. You can enhance a vocabulary lesson on frequently confused words or root words by using cloze activities. This will give your students a deeper contextual understanding of the vocabulary words they need to know.
When teaching ESE students, including students with learning disorders such as autism, it’s a great idea to add visual aids such as graphs, charts, and posters to your lesson. This additional modality will help ESE students learn definitions of words and use them in context.
Children can find online games like these or do other online games that will help them practice their skills in finding the meaning of words.