Inferring implied meaning

There are different levels of comprehension: literal, inferential, critical and creative. Inferential comprehension is required where meaning is implied but not precisely stated in the text.

The reader has to consider the stated facts in texts and determine the implied meaning. Students need to be encouraged to ask Why? and think about possible reasons for the stated facts.

Activity 1: thinking aloud during shared reading

During the second reading of a book, model your thinking process by thinking aloud, for example, 'I can see that … but I wonder why …' and then talk about the evidence in the text that makes you think something that is not directly stated. Questions could probe the purpose of a feature, other actions or events that could be linked to an event, why the person was feeling like that or how that made me feel. Encourage students to offer answers after your think-aloud question. Ask them, 'What makes you think that?'

Activity 2: thinking aloud during paired reading

Once you have modelled thinking aloud, students can be asked to take turns to do the same with a partner. During their turn students should encourage each other to identify the evidence that justifies their opinion by asking, 'What makes you think that?'

Activity 3: questioning the text

After students have thought of questions during paired reading, they are ready to develop and write their own questions about texts they are reading. When they answer the questions they must be able to justify their answer by pointing to the part of the text where they find the evidence for their answer. Students can give their questions to other students to answer.

References

Australian curriculum – ACELY1692: Interacting with others: Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning to expand content knowledge, integrating and linking ideas and analysing and evaluating texts.

NSW syllabus – EN2-4A: Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning to expand content knowledge, integrating and linking ideas and analysing and evaluating texts.

NSW literacy continuum – Comprehension, Cluster 9, Marker 2: Interprets texts by recognising and discussing the difference between literal and inferred meaning in relation to information, characteristics, events. Comprehension, Cluster 10, Marker 2: Responds to and interprets texts by discussing the differences between literal and inferred meanings.

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