Lexical inference as an obstacle to reading comprehension at senior secondary schools in Botswana
The study carried out an investigation aimed at establishing the extent of the discrepancy between the vocabulary knowledge of secondary school students in Botswana and the vocabulary demands of their English language school texts. It also aimed at establishing the extent to which context is useful in assisting students to guess meanings of unknown words. Two tests were administered to the students. The first utilised twenty-five Multiple Choice questions to test vocabulary out of context. Before the students attempted the second test they read three different passages of text after which they were tested on the same vocabulary items as in Test 1. They also answered twenty-five Short Answer comprehension questions based on the texts. The conclusions reached from this investigation was that that context does not always assist students to guess meanings of unknown words and that it sometimes has a detrimental effect on guessing. This study makes proposals for pedagogy aimed at improving the students’ vocabulary knowledge so that they can inference better.
Keywords: Lexical inference, Linguistic cues, Inferencing, L1 learners, L2 learners, Contextual guessing