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Predicting is a strategy that readers use not only to identify words but also to anticipate what might come next. It involves forming an expectation on the basis of the information acquired so far, so it is strongly related to meaning and is more than speculation. Predictions draw on readers’ prior knowledge and their use of syntactic, semantic, and visual and grapho-phonic information in the text.
For beginning readers, predicting is usually at the level of individual words. For example, learners use their knowledge of letter-sound relationships to identify the initial sound of a word, or they draw on the pattern of a repetitive text to support them in working out what might happen next. Beginning readers often rely a great deal on the illustrations.
For fluent readers, predicting involves using prior knowledge and information in the text quickly, and usually automatically, to decide (at least initially) on the meaning of unknown words or difficult passages or to anticipate, for example, the next event in a narrative or the next step in an argument.
As learners become familiar with patterns of sentences, book language, and basic text structures, they build their ability to use prediction.
Teachers need to explicitly teach beginning readers to predict unknown words and show them exactly how to predict what will come next in a text. Predicting may involve the learner in doing some or all of the following.
This example features The Praying Mantis by Pauline Cartwright, photographs by Nic Bishop, Ready to Read series, Learning Media, 1993.