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20Dec 2021

Effective Comprehension strategies (Lower Primary English)

Touching on the 3 levels in Comprehension

In the course of doing their comprehension, pupils tend to skim over the given passage without really understanding and digesting its contents. They can read the passage many times and still not able to understand it thoroughly.

Reading and Understanding

  1. Pupils are to read the passage at least twice.
  2. They should underline the difficult words.
  3. Find the meanings of complex words in the dictionary.
  4. Read the questions and highlight the keywords.
  5. Look for relevant and precise answers to the questions.
  6. Paraphrase each section in their own words to show they have understood it.


Looking for answers

There are 3 levels for answering questions in comprehension.

  1. Literal- Answers found in the text: Highlight essential information
  2. Inferential- Answers based on the use of contextual clues
  3. Critical- Answers that predict: ‘What happens next?’  Answers that employ prior knowledge: ’What do you think she should do?’ or ‘what has happened to make her react in such a manner?’



Read the passage and answer the questions that follow.

Ali was a hawker staying in Jakarta. Very early each morning, he would push his cart of kitchenware to the marketplace. There, he would spread out a plastic mat on the floor and display all his goods.

Then Ali would call out loudly, “Knives, knives for sale!’ many people would stop by and examine his wares. Sometimes, people would buy his goods, but most of the time, they would go off without buying anything. Ali would not get angry when customers did not buy his goods. On good days, he did a roaring trade. Customers had to queue up to be served.

However, on rainy days, business was usually bad. He finished work at six in the evening. He packed his cart again to go home. By that time, he would be feeling tired and hungry.



  1. Literal

Q: What was Ali’s occupation?

Ai was a hawker selling kitchenware (correct)

He sold kitchenware in Jakarta(wrong)


Q: Where did he live?

He lived in Jakarta.

2. Inferential

Q: What did Ali sell in the marketplace?

He sold kitchenware in the marketplace. (Correct)

He sold knives in the marketplace. (wrong)

(Knives would just be one type of kitchenware sold by Ali.)

Q: In what way was Ali a patient man

He did not get angry when customers did not buy his goods

3. Critical

Q: Why was business bad on a rainy day?

It was wet and few people would go to the market on a rainy day.


Q: Do you think the life of a hawker is a hard one? Why?

Yes, I think so as a hawker had to work long hours every day.

Yes, because a hawker has to work long hours every day.

(The answer is not quite correctly expressed. Try to avoid using ‘because’ in your answers.)