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COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUES- I ENGLISH LISTENING AND SPEAKING SKILLS 14. PREDICTING AND GUESSING MEANINGS OF UNKNOWN WORDS IN DISCOURSES Often at times when we hear people speak we do not understand certain words and phrases, however if we know the context of the speech then we can make out what that word means. This lesson helps you guess the meanings of words while listening to discourses.

14.0 Objectives By the end of this unit you will: i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi.

Predict and guess the meanings of unknown words and phrases Recognize Discourse Markers Recognize Cohesive Devices Distinguish between Relevant Information and Subsidiary Details Comprehend varying lengths of Spoken English Construct different types of sentences

14.1 Introduction In Lesson One of this unit, you learnt that English is a rich language with the largest vocabulary on earth (over 1,000,000 words). We asked you to imagine stopping to check or look up the meaning of every unknown word you come across. You may have realized the importance of making educated guesses. In this lesson, you will be able to practice the skills that you learnt in Lesson One. This time, however, the focus will be on your Listening skills rather than your reading skills.

14.2 Predicting and Guessing Meanings of Unknown Words in Discourses In the previous lesson you learnt how to predict and guess the meaning of unknown words and phrases. It is very important that you keep these steps in mind when you read a text and come across an unfamiliar word. The same steps can be followed when we listen to a discourse.

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You will need to refer to the Reference Reading Material that goes with the earlier lesson on this topic for the steps to follow when you come across unfamiliar words. We will work with those steps while working in this lesson, too. Remember, reading and listening is not just reading and hearing words, it is the actual understanding (or comprehending) of them. If you were asked to listen to a list of words and then give the meaning of each word, you may or may not be able to perform the task. Look at this list of words and try telling the meaning of each word to a partner. magnets fingers arrows atom electron proton magnet weaker electric gree stronger repel attract sing oppose carbon oxygen iron aluminum domains chemical physical electrical magnetic easier harder stronger miserable

Chances are, that if you knew the meaning of the word, you would be able to give it. However, if you did not know the meaning of the word, you would feel that you were not successful in completing the task. Does that mean that you should know the meaning of every word in the English dictionary? Certainly not! Nevertheless, you can work on improving your skills in making well thought-out guesses and predictions.

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In order to fully understand the process of predicting and guessing the meaning of unknown words and phrases, we will work with the following passage taken from the website of Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility Office of Science Education: http://education.jlab.org/reading/magnets.html Rather than beginning with trying to predict and guessing the meanings of the words, we will begin with practicing to understand what whole sections refer to, and then try to figure out what word should go in the blanks. This process should help you understand the importance of comprehending the context in which the difficult words occur. Let’s begin with the title. Read the title to yourself. ‘Magnets and Electromagnets’ Now, think about all you know about magnets and/or electromagnets. It is absolutely acceptable for you to think in your first language about this concept. However, please try to think of words in English to describe what you know in your first language. This will help you develop some vocabulary in context. Now try to fill this concept map with words you thought of when you read the title.

Magnets and Electromagnets

How many words or ideas could you think of?

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Maybe you came up with words like this…

attraction

magnetic doors

repulsion

Magnets and Electromagnets

are used in many things

lift heavy things

have positive and negative parts

north and south poles

Now, read the first paragraph to yourself. Think about what the paragraph is talking about. Are any of the words that you come across in this paragraph the ones that you wrote on your concept map? If they are, you have some “background knowledge” of magnets and electromagnets. “Background knowledge” plays an important role in helping us understand what we hear and read. “Background knowledge” is the knowledge or understanding and information we have about a subject. When we know a little bit about a subject, we are able to comprehend and understand what is being said about that subject. This is another reason why we must develop good general knowledge about a wide variety of subject.

14.3 Magnets and Electromagnets Paragraph 1:

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Magnets are materials that attract pieces of iron or steel. In ancient times, people first discovered magnetism when they found some naturally _______________ (heavy, magnetic, rough, rocky) pieces of rock in the earth. They called these rocks lodestone. Loadstones have a lot of iron in them, but we now know that other materials can be magnetized as well. Nickel, cobalt, certain types of ceramics and certain blends of metals can also make good magnets. So, what did you understand from the first paragraph? Tell a partner what you understood. Now, go back and fill the blanks with the words you think make the best sense. The way you would do this, is by reading each word and trying to place it in the sentence to see if they make sense in the context as you saw in the previous lesson. Do you understand the paragraph better now? Do you think that knowing the exact words made much of a difference in understanding the overall idea of the text? Now proceed in the same way with the rest of the passage. Paragraph 2: If you could look at a magnet at the atomic level, you would notice that the magnet was divided into a number of smaller regions called domains. All of the _______________ (atoms, magnets, fingers, arrows) in a domain point in the same direction and, since each atom acts like a little _______________ (atom, electron, proton, magnet) all of their little magnetic fields add together to make a larger, _______________ (weaker, electric, green, stronger) field. A magnet can be weakened if some of its atoms are thrown out of alignment. Hitting or heating a magnet is usually enough to scramble some of its atoms. Paragraph 3: Magnets have north and south poles. The north pole of one magnet will repel, or push away, the north pole of another magnet, and the south pole of one magnet will repel the south pole of another magnet. But, if you put the north pole of one magnet near the south pole of another magnet, you'll feel an attractive force. You may have heard the saying "opposites _______________ (repel, attract, sing, oppose)." This is just one of the rules of nature that scientists have discovered. Paragraph 4: Everyone knows that magnets stick to refrigerators, but did you know that magnets are used in all sorts of things? Most of the magnets we are used to seeing are made from metals rich in _______________ (carbon, oxygen, iron, aluminum). The kind we use to hold our school work to the refrigerator are called permanent magnets. They are magnets today and they'll be magnets tomorrow. They just hang there and continue to be magnets without us doing anything to them. Can you think of anywhere else you might find permanent magnets in your house? Did you know there's a magnet in the seal on the 5


inside of your refrigerator door? You don't use that one to hold your school work, but it does hold the door closed when you're not looking for a snack or a cold drink. Some cabinet doors have magnetic latches too. Can you think of any other places where magnets have practical uses? Paragraph 5: Permanent magnets are one kind of magnet, but there's another kind of magnet called an electromagnet. _______________ (Electromagnets, Magnets, Domains) are made from metal and electricity! When the _______________ (electricity, light, television, radio) is on, you have a magnet, but turn the power off, and you just have a hunk of metal and some wire. Unlike permanent magnets, the strength of an electromagnet is easy to change. One way to do this is to change the amount of current used. Another way is to change the amount of wire you have wrapped around the metal core. You see, when you wind wire in coils around a piece of metal that has a lot of iron in it, and then you run electricity through the wire, it creates a magnetic field. More coils of wire or more electric current creates a stronger magnetic field. This magnetic field causes the atoms in the core to align, giving the metal _______________ (chemical, physical, electrical, magnetic) properties. Paragraph 6: Electromagnets are used in many devices. Think of things that use power and have moving parts. Chances are, an electromagnet is causing the motion! Power windows in a car, automatic doors at the grocery store and the little motor in a CD player that makes the CD spin so you can listen to your favorite music all contain electromagnets! Electromagnets really make our lives _______________ (easier, harder, stronger, miserable) and more fun, too! Now read the complete text given below to know the words that were missing. 14.3.1 Magnets and Electromagnets Paragraph 1: Magnets are materials that attract pieces of iron or steel. In ancient times, people first discovered magnetism when they found some naturally magnetic pieces of rock in the earth. They called these rocks lodestone. Lodestones have a lot of iron in them, but we now know that other materials can be magnetized as well. Nickel, cobalt, certain types of ceramics and certain blends of metals can also make good magnets. Paragraph 2: If you could look at a magnet at the atomic level, you would notice that the magnet was divided into a number of smaller regions called domains. All of the atoms in a domain point in the same direction and, since each atom acts like a little magnet, all of their little magnetic fields add together to make a

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larger, stronger field. A magnet can be weakened if some of its atoms are thrown out of alignment. Hitting or heating a magnet is usually enough to scramble some of its atoms. Paragraph 3: Magnets have north and south poles. The north pole of one magnet will repel, or push away, the north pole of another magnet, and the south pole of one magnet will repel the south pole of another magnet. But, if you put the north pole of one magnet near the south pole of another magnet, you'll feel an attractive force. You may have heard the saying "opposites attract." This is just one of the rules of nature that scientists have discovered. Paragraph 4: Everyone knows that magnets stick to refrigerators, but did you know that magnets are used in all sorts of things? Most of the magnets we are used to seeing are made from metals rich in iron. The kind we use to hold our school work to the refrigerator are called permanent magnets. They are magnets today and they'll be magnets tomorrow. They just hang there and continue to be magnets without us doing anything to them. Can you think of anywhere else you might find permanent magnets in your house? Did you know there's a magnet in the seal on the inside of your refrigerator door? You don't use that one to hold your school work, but it does hold the door closed when you're not looking for a snack or a cold drink. Some cabinet doors have magnetic latches too. Can you think of any other places where magnets have practical uses? Paragraph 5: Permanent magnets are one kind of magnet, but there's another kind of magnet called an electromagnet. Electromagnets are made from metal and electricity! When the electricity is on, you have a magnet, but turn the power off, and you just have a hunk of metal and some wire. Unlike permanent magnets, the strength of an electromagnet is easy to change. One way to do this is to change the amount of current used. Another way is to change the amount of wire you have wrapped around the metal core. You see, when you wind wire in coils around a piece of metal that has a lot of iron in it, and then you run electricity through the wire, it creates a magnetic field. More coils of wire or more electric current creates a stronger magnetic field. This magnetic field causes the atoms in the core to align, giving the metal magnetic properties. Paragraph 6: Electromagnets are used in many devices. Think of things that use power and have moving parts. Chances are, an electromagnet is causing the motion! Power windows in a car, automatic doors at the grocery store and the little motor in a CD player that makes the CD spin so you can listen to your favorite music all contain electromagnets! Electromagnets really make our lives easier, and more fun, too!

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Self-Check Questions Answer True or False 1. When you substitute words and phrases in a sentence, you see if the sentence conveys the same meaning as the original sentence. 2. When you do not understand words you should first try to understand what the whole section refers to. Fill in the Blanks 3. Reading and listening is not just reading and hearing words, it is the actual _____________ of them. 4. _____________ refers to the words you know.

14.4 Summing Up In this lesson, you learnt that in order to guess and predict the meanings of unknown words you need to… • • •

Think of words that may fit in the context of the speech (that is, other words that make sense context) Substitute the word/phrase in the sentence See if it… o Sounds right o Makes sense Remember, if you start making a list of unknown words/phrases you come across, and begin using them in your own sentences, you will build your vocabulary skills. It is essential that you continue applying these strategies on a daily basis so they come naturally to you, hence, making problem-solving easier. As always, we recommend that you continue to read extensively and participate in conversations in English as much as possible.

14.5 Answers to Self-Check Questions 1. 2. 3. 4.

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T T Understanding or comprehending Vocabulary


14.6 References 1. Ferreira, Linda A. Beginnings 1. United States of America: Newbury House Publishers, Inc.,1985. 2. Gill, Mary McVey, and Pamela Hartmann. Tapestry Listening and Speaking 2. United States of America: Heinle & Heinle Thomson Learning, 2000. 3. Croes, John. Ready? Listen!. San Diego, CA: Dominie Press, Inc., 1991.

14.7 Glossary • • • •

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Background Knowledge: Information you already know about a subject Comprehend: To understand Comprehension strategies: Comprehension strategies are a specific series of steps that good readers use to make sense of text Context clues: Context clues refer to the immediate sentences containing the word, statements/sentences already spoken/read, pictures accompanying the text, facial/hand gestures or definitions, restatements, examples or other descriptions that help a reader/listener understand the meaning of an unknown word or phrase Guessing: Guessing from context is using prior knowledge of the subject and the ideas in the text given thus far, as clues to the meanings of unknown words and phrases, instead of stopping to look them up Occurrence: An occurrence is something that happens. It refers to an event, incident, or even circumstances Predicting: Predicting is using knowledge of the subject matter (your background knowledge about that particular topic and/or the author’s style) to make educated guesses about content and vocabulary that will follow Prefix: Prefix is the part that is sometimes attached to the front of a word. Each prefix modifies or changes the meaning of the root of the word slightly e.g. It is unlikely that I will learn to speak English if I do not practice regularly (Here, the prefix is un-; it has changed the meaning of likely to not likely) Proficient: Capable; expert; skilled Root: The root is the basic part of a word e.g. The baby snatched the pencil out of her brother’s hand. (Here the root of the word snatched is snatch.) Substitute: To replace with; an alternative word Suffix: A suffix is often attached to the end of a root word to form a new word e.g. The angry man shouted at the taxi driver. (Here the suffix in the word shouted is “–ed”). Text comprehension: Text comprehension is the understanding of what is read. Vocabulary: Vocabulary refers to the words an individual knows o Listening vocabulary: refers to the words a person knows when hearing them spoken aloud. o Speaking vocabulary refers to the words we use when we speak. Reading vocabulary refers to the words a person knows when seeing them in print. o Writing vocabulary refers to the words we use in writing.

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Lesson-14