Teaching Inferencing: A Gift for Our Children’s Future


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I don’t need to tell you that reading is at the heart of academic success. Nevertheless, pedagogically speaking, teaching comprehension is challenging. It is easily said, but it is not easily accomplished!


Knowing how to read does not necessarily equate to reading comprehension. A good reader needs to be fully engaged in reading comprehension activities in order to make connections and to decode meaning. Reading comprehension requires that the reader creates inferences by associating the clues in the text to their own knowledge. Many students struggle to understand what they are reading. These students need to learn not only to improve their reading comprehension skills, but also to incorporate information that is new to them using texts with simplified language and simple ideas.

From Evaluating to Teaching Reading

For a long time, we believed that all we had to do to improve students’ reading comprehension was to ask students to read a text, to answer some questions, and then to take up the answers together. This pedagogical approach is a method of evaluation, and not a method for teaching, but it was a common approach that was encouraged by many sources, including past practice and textbooks. Nowadays, teachers are aware that they must more deliberately and directly support students’ understanding and, in particular, their development of inferencing skills.

Suggestions for Practicing Inferencing

In her book La lecture - Apprentissage et difficultés (2011), Quebec reading specialist Jocelyne Giasson provides many suggestions for ways to practice inferencing. Here are some examples from her book:
• Begin practicing making inferences orally.
• Make use of visual aids when making inferences (e.g., pictures, comics, advertisements, etc.).
• Use riddles and guessing games with clues.
• Ask inferencing questions regularly.
• Use real-life, concrete examples for inferencing (e.g., person, place, thing, etc.).

Riviera Education presents Tracking Inference and Did You Get The Joke. Innovative and fun, these activities were specifically designed to take advantage of the features of the interactive whiteboard. You can access freely to the trial versions here (lien à insérer).

Sebastien Gagnon, Riviera Education

Photo credit : Alphaspirit - CanStock