Contextual Clues Strategy in Learning Activity

Definition of Contextual Clues Strategy
The word “contextual clues strategy” comes from the word “contextual = context”, the word “clues”, and the word “strategy”. Context is the words that come just before and after a word, phrase, or statement and help you to understand its meaning. In addition Priasudiarjo also defines that context is the words surround of difficult word that can be reference to predict its meaning.
Clues are some words or a piece of evidence that helps you discover the answer to a problem. Because contextual clues is the strategy for increasing students’ reading comprehension so we can say it as learning strategy. And Chamot defines learning strategy as the thoughts and actions that individuals use to accomplish a learning goal.
The contextual clues strategy its self has the meaning: a strategy by which the meanings of unknown words may be obtained by examining the parts of a sentence surrounding the word for definition/explanation clues, restatement/synonym clues, contrast/antonym clues, and inference/general context clues. So Contextual Clues can be defined as a learning strategy that is applied by learners as attempt to achieve learning objective. The learner activates his background knowledge before reading a passage to make easy his comprehending the content of the passage.

Benefits of Contextual Clues Strategy
There were many benefits by using contextual strategy in reading. H.D.Brown states that, over-reliance on a dictionary not only slows down your reading but may interfere with your comprehension as well. A better strategy is to use the context, the words and sentences surrounding a particular words, to help you guess that word’s meaning. Usually the guesses you make will be accurate enough for you to understand the author’s idea.

Joffe states that contextual clues can be one of the ways to improve students’ reading comprehension. Contextual clues are hints that the author gives to help define a difficult or unknown words. The clue may appear within the same sentence as the word to which it refers, or it may be in the preceding or subsequent sentence. It can be understood that by using contextual clues, the readers can find the meaning of difficult words easily and understand the author’s idea accurately.

Floris et. al., also state that writers often tell you more than they say directly. They give you hints or clues that help you “read between the lines”. Using these clues to give you a deeper understanding of your reading . Sometime the meaning of the new words can be predicted without dictionary. It can be done if we understand that there were contextual clues. Djiwandono states that if you don’t master vocabularies, you can use the strategy with predicting the meaning of words from the context.
Besides, Steinberg in Aryadi said that, “The use of contextual clues could be one of the best ways to improve students’ reading comprehension. Unfortunately, students often insist on understanding each word when reading. Making the students’ aware of existing of contextual clues could help them deal with increasingly difficult text. At the same time, the use of contextual clues can also provide a means by which students can rapidly increase their existing vocabulary base.”

Unfortunately, students often insist on understanding each word when reading. Realizing that a text can be understood in general sense by using contextual clues can go a long way toward helping students cope with increasingly difficult text. At the same time, the use of contextual clues can also provide a means by which students can rapidly increase their existing vocabulary base.

Types of Contextual Clues

In discussing the contextual clues, Joffe gives four types of contextual clues that are quite common that then will be studies, they are;
1) Synonym : A synonym, or word with the same meaning, is used in the sentence.
My opponent’s argument is fallacious, misleading plain wrong.
2) Antonym :A word or group of word that has the opposite meaning reveals the meaning of an unknown word.
Although some men are loquacious, others hardly talk at all.
3) Explanation :The unknown word is explained within the sentence or in a sentence immediately preceding.
The patient is so somnolent that she requires medication to help her stay awake for more than a short time.
4) Example : Specific examples are used to define the word.
Celestial bodies, such as the sun, moon, and stars, are governed by predictable laws.

The four types of context above; synonym, antonym, explanation, and example are can be clues for the students in determining of the meaning of difficult words in the text.

The Procedures in Modeling Contextual Clues Strategy
The modeling of strategy is done by giving a text to the students. And the researcher has procedures;
1) Locate the unfamiliar word
2) Write down the word in students’ sticky note
3) Read before and after the word
4) Determine the type of contextual clues (synonym, antonym, explanation, or example) that is used and show which part of the text (i.e. word, phrase, or clause) used as the clue.
5) Write down the words (contextual clue) that help you find the meaning of the word
6) Write down what you think the unfamiliar word means
7) After the students don’t find the difficult word anymore, are hoped students are able to answer the some sorts of reading comprehension, such as determining main idea, inference and finding the detail information. And to apply and practice the strategy, the students work in small group. The students write in the margins of their papers. Instruct the students to follow the procedures above. The teacher should closely monitor the groups to ensure understanding. Students share responses with class to confirm understanding.

The Indicator of Contextual Clues Strategy
There are some indicator of contextual strategy that should be followed, they are: students are able to answer some sorts of reading comprehension, such as determining main idea, inference, and finding the detail information.

At last, the conducting of contextual clues strategy is based upon the consideration that the students has a difficulty in comprehending the text because of unfamiliar words on the text. The students need a good strategy to increase the students’ reading comprehension. So, here the researcher tried to use contextual clues strategy to help the students to increase the students’ reading comprehension.

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