I usually blog about the best ways to teach the Oral & Writing Components and sometimes I get emails from parents who are surprised that my regular lessons comprise of Paper 2 in the second hour! Paper 2 is an essential part of the PSLE and perfecting that is a goal in all my regular lessons. However, blogging about how to teach those components is somewhat more difficult. So here is my first attempt at explaining about how to spot contextual clues for Comprehension Cloze… I do hope that I am clear in my explanations!

To succeed in this component, students need to be ardent readers so that they can pick out phrases and phrasal verbs. With regular practice, they are able to spot the contextual clues lay hidden in the passages.

Contextual clues are there to aid the student in filling in the blanks but they are not consistent. A passage can be riddled with obvious clues and is a gem for a student trained to spot them. Yet another passage may have few and sometimes it’s just guessing the best possible answer.

The Comprehension Cloze Passage below is taken from the Nanyang Primary School 2014 SA1. I have broken it up into paragraphs and bolded and underlined the answers and italicized in red the contextual clues, with a brief explanation of why these are clues.

Primary 6 English Comprehension Cloze Passage

Lizards are four-legged reptiles that live on land. Like all reptiles, they are (51) covered with scaly skin and are cold-blooded. This means they rely on (52) heat from their surroundings to raise their body temperature so that they can become more active. The rainforest is an ideal place for cold-blooded animals (53) because it is warm day and night. Only a few lizards such as iguanas feed on plants. Most of them are predators. They feed (54) mainly on insects or small mammals such as mice. Since there are more insects and other sources of food in the rainforest than in any (55) other habitat, lizards of all shapes and sizes (56) live there.

Lizards have good colour vision, and their bright, alert eyes are far enough forward in their head to (57) allow them to judge distance and speed when (58) catching their prey. Chameleons have unique eyes mounted on little turrets. Each eye can move independently, so that a chameleon can look in two (59) directions at once. This (60) helps it to spot its prey.

Most lizards rely on (61) camouflage to hide from their enemies. They can match the colours and patterns of their background. The chameleon is (62) not the only lizard that can change colour. Many lizards can turn darker or lighter (63) according to the time of day or colour of background. Lizards like geckos have a surprise for their attackers- they can shed the end of their tail simply by contracting certain muscles. The shed tail twitches and wriggles, (64) distracting the predator from the feeling lizard. The lizards can grow a new but weaker tail. This is a small (65) price to pay for their escape.

Contextual clues

(51) scaly skin – a reptile’s body is covered with scaly skin
(52) raise their body temperature – heat the cold-blooded reptile
(53) because – conjunction
(54) more insects and other sources of food – reptile feeds mainly on these sources of food but there are more types in the rainforest
(55) than in any other – phrase
(56) habitat – reptiles live in a habitat
(58) speed – required in catching a prey
(59) look – in a direction
(61) match the colours and patterns of background + hide – camouflage
(62) phrase + many lizards – not the only
(63) phrase + time of day – according to
(64) twitches & wriggles – distracting the predator
(65) phrase – a small price to pay

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