Infer the Meaning of Unknown Words by Sheer Guess or by Clues? – An Exploration on the Clue Use in Chinese EFL Learner’s Lexical Inferencing

Zhaochun Yin


Lexical inferencing is refered to as guessing the meaning of an unknown word using available linguistic and other clues. It is a primary lexical processing strategy to tackle unknown words while reading. This study aims to explore the clue use of Chinese EFL learners in inferring the meaning of unknown word in reading. Two types of introspective research methods have been used to achieve the research aim. 55 participants of four levels (tertiary final, tertiary middle, tertiary initial and senior secondary) were asked to read a sample text and infer the meaning of target words through thinking aloud. Additional information of their lexical inferencing was elicited through stimulated recalls. The results show that Chinese EFL learners use a variety of clues in their lexical inferencing. The findings also reveal some discrepancies of clue use across different levels learners in lexical inferencing.

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English Language Teaching       ISSN 1916-4742 (Print)   ISSN  1916-4750 (Online)

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