Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Students Making Inferences

In the TOEFL (Test for English as a Foreign Language) class this morning, we went over the types of questions in the reading section. Some of the vocabulary was new to the students, particularly “inferences.”

Because I try to teach as much as possible without translation, I gave them a personal example to illustrate the skill of making inferences. The other day I saw a group of people going around my neighborhood picking up trash. When they passed by my building, I thanked them and talked with one woman about how I’d like to join them some time. She asked where I lived, and I replied, “Here!”

A couple days later, there was an announcement stuck in my mailbox with a woman’s name and phone number. My reading in Japanese is rather weak, but as I glanced through it, I gathered that it was about a neighborhood meeting. I also figured that the woman was the one I had talked to. I explained to the students that I inferred what the notice was all about, even though I couldn’t read it completely.

During the next class, where we’re studying To Kill a Mockingbird, some of the students finished the work early. I noticed them looking through the questions for the next chapter, but they weren’t writing or using the book. I asked them what they were doing, and they beamed up at me, “We’re making inferences!”

I was delighted. They both received a special sticker.

No comments: