A highly effective method of finding the words a person doesn’t understand in a book or other written material is called Reading Aloud Word Clearing.
A student, when reading by himself, often does not know he has gone past misunderstood words. But whenever he does go by misunderstood words, he will have trouble with what he is reading.
In Reading Aloud Word Clearing, one has the person read the material aloud. The person he reads to helps him find and clear any misunderstood words and is called, appropriately, a
Reading Aloud Word Clearing is commonly done by two persons on a turnabout basis: one student is the word clearer and word clears the other student, and then they switch around and the student who was just word cleared becomes the word clearer and word clears his partner.
A word can be misunderstood in many different ways. It is important that these different types of misunderstood words are known to the person doing Reading Aloud Word Clearing. A word can be misunderstood because of:
1. A false (totally wrong) definition—The person reads or hears the word “cat” and thinks “cat” means “box.” You can’t get more wrong.
2. An invented definition—When young, the person was always called “a girl” by his pals when he refused to do anything daring. He invents the definition of “girl” to be “a cowardly person.”
3. An incorrect definition—A person reads or hears the word “computer” and thinks it is a “typewriter.” This is an incorrect meaning for “computer” even though a typewriter and a computer are both types of machines.
4. An incomplete definition—The person reads the word “office” and thinks it means “room.” The definition of the word “office” is “the building, room or series of rooms in which the affairs of a business, professional person, branch of government, etc., are carried on.” The person’s definition of “office” is incomplete.
5. An unsuitable definition—The person sees a dash (–) in the sentence “I finished numbers 3–7 today.” He thinks a dash is a minus sign, realizes you cannot subtract 7 from 3 and so cannot understand it.
6. A homonymic (one sound or symbol which has two or more distinctly separate meanings) definition—The person hears the word “period” in the sentence “It was a disorderly period in history” and knowing that “period” comes at the end of a sentence and means stop, supposes that the world ended at that point.
7. A substitute (synonym) definition—The person reads the word “portly” and thinks the definition of the word is “fat.” “Fat” is a synonym for the word “portly.” The person has a misunderstood because the word “portly” means “large and heavy in a dignified and stately way.”
8. An omitted (missing) definition—The person hears the line “The food here is too rich.” This person knows two definitions for the word “rich.” He knows that “rich” means “having much money, land, goods, etc.” and “wealthy people.” Neither of these definitions make much sense to him in the sentence he has just heard. He cannot understand how food could have anything to do with having a lot of money. He does not know that “rich” in this sense means, “containing plenty of butter, eggs, flavoring, etc.”
9. A no-definition—A no-definition is a “not-understood” word or symbol. The person reads the sentence “The business produced no lucre.” No understanding occurs, as he has no definition for “lucre.” The word means “riches; money: chiefly a scornful word, as in filthy lucre.”
10. A rejected definition—The person refuses to look up the definition of asterisk (*). On discussion, it turns out that every time he sees an asterisk on the page he knows the material will be “very hard to read” and is “literary,” “difficult” and “very intellectual.”
If a person has habitually gone past many, many misunderstood words in his reading or his education (which most everybody in this present culture has), not only will his ability to read be lowered but also his intelligence. What he himself writes and says won’t be understood, what he reads and hears he won’t understand, and he will be out of communication. The probability is that the world will look like a very peculiar place to him, he will feel that he is “not understood” (How true!) and life will look a bit miserable to him. He can even appear to others to be criminal. At best he will become a sort of robot or
a person who helps another person find and clear any misunderstood words.
a dull, apathetic, unresponsive person who cannot think independently. Literally, a dead body that has been given the similarity or appearance of life by an outside (usually evil) force.