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Snap Language

Getting Smarter through Language

Advanced Reading Course

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Dealing with Vocabulary in Reading

Vocabulary is important in reading because unknown words may affect reading fluency and reading comprehension. No matter how good your vocabulary is, you will always run into new words while reading; however, there are ways you can figure out or guess the meaning of a word using context clues.


For example, sometimes writers give you the meaning of a new word through synonyms or comparisons and antonyms or contrasts; other times, they define and explain keywords.

If you are reading to understand the content, it is best not to worry about unknown vocabulary words as long as you understand the content. (You can always look words up after you finish reading.)

When you are not reading for content, you can develop good habits and study skills that promote vocabulary learning and improvement. Using a dictionary correctly to support reading comprehension is also crucial.

Importance of Vocabulary in Reading

Vocabulary is very important in reading because writers use words that express their ideas clearly. If you do not know the words the writer has used in a passage, you will probably have difficulties understanding it.

Video Activity 1

Watch Vocabulary in Reading (Part 1) to learn about the importance of vocabulary in reading and important linguistic concepts. Take good study notes.

Video Activity 2

Watch Vocabulary in Reading (Part 2) to learn about vocabulary-learning habits. Take good study notes.

Using Context Clues to Guess Unknown Words

It helps to read a lot so you come across a lot of vocabulary as often as possible. Nonetheless, it takes a long time and a lot of experience with the language to acquire good vocabulary. Even avid readers who know a large number of words are likely to run into new words often. Then, what do you do when you are reading and run into words you do not know? Looking words up slows your reading and takes the focus away from understanding the content. However, you can do a few things that will allow you to understand those unknown words.

Video Activity 3

Watch about using synonyms as context clues in the paragraph or text to figure out the meaning of unknown or unfamiliar words during reading. Take good study notes.

Video Activity 4

Watch about using other context clues in the text to guess the meaning of unknown or unfamiliar words. Take good study notes.

Up Next: The Paragraph: Main Idea and Supporting Details

Continue the lesson to learn about main ideas, supporting details, and the location of the main idea sentence in a paragraph.