Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.


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.

What learners do

  • draw on their letter-sound knowledge
  • draw on their awareness of the patterns of text
  • sound out the word or parts of the word and use meaning and syntax to narrow the possibilities
  • focus on a detail in an illustration or diagram
  • repeat or rerun the preceding text and sound out the first letter
  • use their prior knowledge to predict what a character might do next or what the next step in an argument might be.

How teachers prompt and support

  • Read that again. What sound does the word start with?
  • What would make sense?
  • What could you try?
  • What sound do these letters make?
  • What’s happening in the picture on page 4?
  • What will the fly do now?
  • Has it noticed the praying mantis?
  • That’s right. The fly comes b…
  • What do you think will happen next?

This example features The Praying Mantis by Pauline Cartwright, photographs by Nic Bishop, Ready to Read series, Learning Media, 1993.

Published on: 19 Jun 2010