Strategies for Helping Readers
Using Cueing Systems Effectively
Accessing, selectively employing, and combining knowledge about how language is structured (syntax), the meaning of words (semantic), and sound/symbol matches (grapho-phonemic) to unlock meaning.
Watch a Video About This Strategy
"Cueing systems enable a reader to be able to use all the clues to be able to figure out concepts and to be able to figure out the understanding. Sometimes readers only access phonic cues. They only think about the sounds of the letters or the sound of the word or the chunks in a word."
" There are two other cueing systems that enable readers to be able to get those unknown words and understand in a much better way. When students use phonics as well as meaning cues and they look at what’s in front of the word, what's in back of the word, they read it, they’re able then to have a more forceful system and a more efficient system for getting unknown words."
"The third cueing system is syntax, and that refers to the pattern that writers use—the words, the tenses, the cases. When students know that natural language pattern it helps them to be able to also get unknown words and concepts. So we talk about efficient readers using all three cueing systems and being able to use them flexibly for a variety of purposes."
When Can It Be Used?
What You Can Do to Support This Strategy:
Encourage students to use all three of these cues when they encounter an unfamiliar word in their reading.
- Look at semantic cues. When students do this, they look at the context and meaning of the text they are reading. They also integrate knowledge of the text drawn from illustrations and graphs in the assignment.
- Find out more about using context clues to unlock meaning.
- Examine syntax. When students do this, they look at the sentence in which the word appears and the structure of the words around it. If they rely on their sense of word order, sentence patterns, and grammar (tenses of verbs, cases of nouns, etc.), they can work to unlock the meaning of the unknown word.
- Use graphophonemic clues to sound out the individual letters in a word, the sound of the word, or the sound of parts of the word.
Find Out More
The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory presents an analysis of reading and the three cueing systems.
This article, from Saskatchewan Education, gives practical advice about ways to encourage students to use the three cueing systems.
Next Strategy: Employing vocabulary techniques