Episode 24: Q&A – Inferring to Enhance Reading Comprehension

Episode 24

On this episode of Bilingual Avenue, I continue the reading comprehension multiple part series discussing reading comprehension strategies.  This week we focus on how to introduce and implement inferences to predict information that is not included or implied in the text.  Inferring can lead to higher order thinking skills.

Episode #24 – Transcript

Hey there!  Welcome to another Question & Answer edition of the Bilingual Avenue podcast.

Thank you as always for tuning into the podcast!

If you’ve been listening to the podcast for the past few weeks you know that we are right in the middle of a reading comprehension mini series!  We’ve covered three strategies so far, making connections, visualizing and questioning.  You can check out episode 18, 20 and 22 to listen to those strategies.

There are three more that I’d like to share with you to enhance your reading experience with your children.  Remember that all these strategies are applicable for monolingual and multilingual children.  You are just looking to improve what your children are understanding in any of the languages that they are reading. If this isn’t the best time for you to working reading comprehension with your children, all the podcasts can be accessed at any time.  You can always check back later when the timing works best and listen again to the mini series.

This mini series was inspired by a listener’s question, remember you ask a question too!  Just head over to bilingualavenue.com/contact and leave me an audio message.  We’ll have your question answered on a future podcast!

So let’s start talking about today’s strategy, inferring… in other words reading between the lines!  Inferences are simply what we figure out when information is implied or not directly stated in the text.  This is an important skill because it helps the reader learn to draw conclusions based on what they are reading!

It involves using what we know (or what we have read) to guess about what we don’t know (or what we haven’t read).  This act alone makes the text much more personable and memorable than if we didn’t try to create these associations.  Remember that making text more memorable usually makes reading in general more pleasurable which is always something we want to take into consideration!

Out of all the skills we’ve talked about so far this is the most difficult! Inferring requires higher order thinking skills and it’s not necessarily a natural process for everyone.  That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to practice this. On the contrary, your child can benefit quite a bit from practicing this skill at home and in an environment where they feel comfortable.

Also keep in mind, inferring creates habits that ultimately encourage readers to think about their own thinking while reading. They can then identify when and why they don’t understand something they are reading triggering them to use a variety of strategies to solve comprehension problems or deepen their understanding of a text.

So how can we teach this skill to our kids at home?

Like other strategies we are going to start with modeling.  But here’s where it’s going to get a little interesting.  We don’t have to teach how to make inferences just by reading.  In the beginning, you probably want to use every day examples instead.  Find things that are very relatable to your kids to make it really simple.

Here’s an example of how you can model this strategy with every day life.

I am notorious for misplacing my keys and so I am always back tracking my steps to figure out where I placed them. So I could use this opportunity, for example, to infer or make a guess about where they may be.  So something along the lines of “Geez, where are my keys? I know that right after I opened the door, I went into the kitchen and put my pocket book on the counter.  I am guessing my keys are on the countertop as well.”

Once you make the inference, talk about why you made the guess that you did. Describe the information you had at your disposal and what lead you to make the informed guess that you made!

This seems trivial and really simple but that’s a skill nonetheless that needs to be learned so take advantage of the little moments that life gives you to teach this skill.

Another way you can continue to teach this strategy and incorporate books a bit more is by using the pictures on a book cover.  Ask your child what they think is happening in the picture and what the story may be about.  You can model it first and share aloud why you are making the predictions that you are making.  Then encourage your child to do the same with a new book.

Once you think your child is understanding the basic of making inferences, model how good readers make inferences while reading!  Pick a short passage from a new story you are reading with your child.  Pause and share with him or her what you understood from the story.  Then pick one personal experience that you have had that may complement what you have just read.  Pair them together and make a guess aloud.  Walk your child through your logic.

The thing with inferring is that you can’t necessarily use a book you’ve already read because your child already knows what the outcome of the story will be. So you’ll want to use stories that are not necessarily familiar to them.  But we don’t always have fresh new books in hand so this may be an opportunity for you to consider audio books.

Last week, I mentioned that I just recently partnered with Audible.  I have been very impressed with their large selection of multilingual children’s books. If you check out the link BilingualAvenueBooks.com link, you will have access to a free audiobook of your choice at no cost to you.  You’ll also get a free 30-day trial membership to see if this is a resource that can enhance reading and help support the language needs of your child.  BilingualAvenueBooks.com is an affiliate link so if you find that this is indeed something you’d like to try and use with your children, I will get a small commission but at no cost to you.  So if you are in need of new books, this may be a good resource to check out.

Now once you’ve modeled this strategy and are ready to turn it over to your child, take it step by step. You can start by making simple predictions with them.  For example, let’s say that you are reading little red riding hood.  Before you get to the part where Little Red Riding Hood realizes that a wolf is pretending to be her grandmother, you could pause and tell your child that you’d like to make a prediction.  You have a hunch that someone or something is pretending to be grandma.  You have read from the text that Little Red Riding Hood has noticed that her grandmother is acting differently and that based on your previous experience, you have a feeling that something is just not right with grandma.  Then, you can continue to read the story and indeed confirm that your prediction was correct.

That’s just one idea, find something that works for you.  What I am trying to convey here is that making a small predictions as you read rather than a blown out conclusion of the text is the way to start.

Then, turn it over to your child and give them a chance to make an inference.  As you continue to practice this skill, make sure to use a variety of types of books or genres to expand your child’s thinking.

For younger children, you may need some to ask some questions to prod them along in their thinking. While for the older children, you can have them write down a sentence or a paragraph on the guess or the inference that they made to incorporate some writing into the exercise.

Like always, remember to make it fun!  When inferring you can pretend you are finding clues in the story as you read them.  You can then use those clues and what you already know to complete this skill.

That takes us to the end of our fourth strategy.  I truly hope you are finding the series helpful.  Now last episode, I asked you to send me a quick note letting me know what you need help with right now! This will really help me understand how to plan episodes around your needs and help you on your language journey.  I’d be really thankful for your input.

Thanks again for tuning in! We’ll pick up with our fifth strategy on the next Q&A episode.

May you have fun travels on your language journey. Hope to see you again on the avenue.

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