There are many texts that we can read to improve our reading comprehension ability. Brown (2004: 186) asserts that there are three types of reading genres, they are: first, academic reading, such as thesis, essays, papers, reference materials, dictionaries and journal. The second is job-related reading, such as letters/emails, phone message, project report, schedule, questionnaires, documents and announcements. The last is personal reading, for example newspapers, magazines, greeting cards, invitations, novels, short stories, drama, poetry and comics. Moreover, to assess reading performance, they are several types of reading; perceptive reading, selective reading, interactive reading, and extensive reading.
While reading, language learner may face unfamiliar words in context. Finding several unknown words may not disturb general comprehension of the text. However, when readers are not acquainted with numerous words or the most essential ones in the text, their reading comprehension may be impaired (Soria, 2001, p. 77). In this case, among the strategies, a contextual guessing meaning of unfamiliar words is a strategy which is worth developing (Rhalmi, 2013). Guessing word meaning from context (lexical inferencing) is a compensation strategy for L1 and L2 reading comprehension (Bialystok, 1983 in Soria, 2001). By the strategy, a language learner reads most words in text as sight words and uses information in text to understand the meaning of unfamiliar words (Gaskins, 2004).
There are two main factors affecting guessing ability: reader-related variables and text-related variables. Reader related variables are vocabulary size, knowledge of grammar, language proficiency, attention to details, cognitive and mental effort, and reader characteristics. As for text-related variables, they are word characteristics, text characteristics, the presence of contextual clues and topic familiarity (Kaivanpanah & Alavi, 2008). However, many ways that can improve contextual guessing ability for English learner. Learner can guess the meaning of a word by these strategies; a pronoun reference, communication relationship, guess hidden meaning between the sentences, culture reference, guessing author message inference and the last is looking for prefixes and suffixes that may give information what part of speech it is (Brown, 2001: 308). Beside the strategy, there are different ways to improve students’ contextual meaning guessing skill. The techniques can help students get the meaning of words or at least narrow the possibilities: (1) Synonyms and definitions; (2) Antonym and contrast; (3) Cause and effect; (4) Parts of speech; (5) Examples; (6) Word forms (the morphological properties of the word); and (7) General knowledge (Rhalmi, 2013).
Guessing from context refers to the ability to infer the meaning of an expression using contextual clues. These clues may be purely linguistic or situational: (1) Linguistic context: the linguistic environment in which a word is used within a text; and (2) Situational context: extra linguistic elements that contribute to the construction of meaning this may involve background knowledge of the subject” (Rhalmi, 2013).
However, this study uses a text to implement contextual guessing for English learning activity. This strategy provides the ways of reading skill in daily activity, actually in classroom.