Comprehension Technique: How to Make Inferences

Welcome to post #2 in the mini series Comprehension: How to Support Readers. 

Comprehension can be a tricky topic to support young readers with. Especially if they are reluctant to read. For this reason, Bettering Youth uses the following 7 techniques to ensure our students are confident with comprehension tasks. 

The 7 strategies of comprehension:

  1. Making connections
  2. Making inferences
  3. Predicting
  4. Generating and asking questions
  5. Summarising
  6. Visualising
  7. Comprehension monitoring

Does your child struggle with how to make inferences? Learn more about the Comprehension Club launching in January 2021

Last week we explored how to support readers in making connections. If you missed that technique to boost comprehension, click here

Today we will explore the second comprehension technique: how to make inferences while reading. 

Comprehension technique: how to make inferences

2. Making Inferences while Reading

The second comprehension technique to boost understanding is to make inferences. 

Inferencing is defined as drawing a conclusion based on a combination of evidence within the text and previous experience.

This is the next natural technique to teach to readers and often the more difficult technique to grasp. “Reading between the lines” is a challenging concept for most as it requires higher order thinking. This skill, however, is closely linked to all core subjects including Science, Maths and the Arts. It is therefore a skill to invest time and effort in teaching and modelling.

As ever, knowing the structure required to make inferences can help immensely. Bettering Youth tutors use the following writing stems to help students relate their inferences. These are especially useful in exams.

Inference writing stems:

  • I think… because….
  • Maybe this means…
  • I’m guessing… because….
  • This allows me to assume…
Writing stems for making inferences

How to teach the comprehension technique of making inferences

One of the best methods to teach inference making is through structured practise. Bettering Youth English tutors use the W-H-C method. Our very own process of structuring student thinking in making inferences. We begin with the question “What”, follow it up with “How” and of course ask the child to “Connect” it to their previous knowledge.

  1. What do you believe is happening?
  2. Which element helps you to make this inference?
  3. What prior knowledge helps to support this inference?

Looking at the above questions helps readers to systematically create inferences. It also provides an outline of how to model inferencing.

3 questions to masterfully make an inference

Teaching Readers to Make Inferences While Reading

One of my favourite activities to practise inferencing is by looking at music. Lyrics are often overflowing with hidden meaning and double entendres that require inferencing to fully grasp the meaning of the song. 

  • Start by encouraging the reader to list their all time 5 favourite songs. 
  • Ask them why they like each of these songs. Notice that oftentimes it is because the lyrics connect to a previous experience. Therefore they have already made connections with the lyrics. 
  • Play one of the favourite songs.
  • Model making inferences by first commenting on the mood of the song based on the tempo and instruments.
  • Then look at the lyrics, a stanza at a time and model the above inference structure. 

Click here for my original lesson plan of teaching inferencing. It includes 6 pages and a student worksheet.

Comprehension lesson plan to make inferences by Bettering Youth

Have fun supporting readers in making inferences while reading

With a structured approach, teaching inference making can be as they say; “easy peasy, lemon squeezy”.

But like all great things, this technique will require dedication and consistent practise. 

Patience is key when developing confidence in any area so be sure to reflect on this throughout the week and be sure to let me know what strategy you have chosen to employ in the comments below.

Cheers and all the best to all the readers!

Have you explored Week 1 of Comprehension: How to Support Readers? Be sure to check it out. We delved into technique number 1: making connections while reading.

Introducing our Comprehension Club!

If your child struggles connecting with what they are reading, then this club is for them!

Children in year 5 & 6 are welcome to join a Free Trial of the Bettering Youth Comprehension Club. Simply email us to get registered!

This club will support young readers in developing comprehension techniques that will serve them within the classroom and beyond! To learn more about our programme and to register your child for our free trial click here!

comprehension free trial
Free trial for Bettering Youth’s Comprehension Club

Does Your Child Lack Confidence and Need to Build Academic Resilience?

Bettering Youth tutors always endeavour to embed emotional wellbeing into our academic tutoring programmes to ensure we are preparing students for above and beyond the classroom.

We would love to welcome you to our Weekend Warriors Confidence Club!

This is a weekly 45 minute club where children will connect, learn the skills and techniques to boost confidence, academic resilience and stress management techniques.

We play games, workout, do meditation, work on journal prompts, a whole range of activities to support children in becoming happier and more resilient learners…. and will help reluctant and struggling readers gain that much needed growth mindset.

If you are interested in our Weekend Warriors Confidence Club and would like more information, please email Sarahlynn to find out more about this term’s schedule and focus.

Weekend Warriors Interest form

Express interest in our weekend warriors confidence club
Weekend Warriors Confidence Club

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Everything that we do at Bettering Youth is backed by evidence, which is why we wanted to share with
you the research for which we have based our highly successful programmes on.

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