Context can reduce accurate word learning15 Replies
“When poor readers rely on context to aid word recognition, they focus on selecting semantically appropriate words given the context clues rather than decoding the words through letter-sound conversion strategy.
“When children utilize a compensatory strategy like contextual guessing rather than phonological decoding to aid their word recognition, their attention to word form is limited, resulting in poorer acquisition of word-specific representations, hence the negative context effects.
“When poor readers are presented with words in isolation, they are forced to read them using phonological decoding. Although inefficient, their phonological decoding of the words increases their attention to the orthographic details of the words, resulting in acquiring higher quality representations for the words than when they are presented in
Developing high-quality word representations is a challenging activity for struggling readers. Expecting them to only learn words in context is a bit like asking them to only learn to shoot netball or basketball goals during a real game, and discouraging goal-shooting and other skills practice.
As a weedy, unco, asthmatic kid keen to avoid on-court humiliation, I voluntarily did many hours of goal-shooting practice. Imagine if coaches discouraged such practice, and said sporting skills should only be learnt in the context of real games. We’d all stare at them. Then ignore them.
Al Ghanem’s dissertation goes on:
“While context clues can support comprehension, they are unreliable sources for orthographic learning. Teachers must select the instructional strategy that fits the goal of instruction, and presenting words in isolation appears to be the most beneficial when the goal of instruction is acquiring word-specific representations.” (p107)