In Word Clearing and in check-outs it has been proven statistically, that the small and simple words show up more frequently. Misunderstanding the simple words is the most common cause in preventing understanding.
Words like "a", "the", "exist", "such" and other 'everybody knows' words show up much more often, when doing Word Clearing with a Meter, than the big and difficult ones.
It takes a big dictionary, or often a grammar textbook, to define these simple words fully. Apparently the small dictionaries also suppose everybody knows.
We run into well educated people, who have been through years of formal education, who do not know what "or" or "by" or "an" means. At first glance this may seem unbelievable. But the proof is in metered Word Clearing. When these small words are fully cleared up a whole education can go from a solid mass of question marks to clear and useful information. Stupidity comes about as a result of misunderstood words.
The earliest misunderstood word or words in a subject are the key to later misunderstood words in that subject.
Then come words like "a", "the" and other simple English words as the next type of words that most often turn up.
In studying a foreign language it is often found that the grammar words of one’s own language that tell about the grammar are basic to not being able to learn the foreign language and its parts.
The test of whether the person understands a word is "does it read on the Meter when he reads the word in the material being cleared?"
That a person says he knows the meaning is not acceptable. Have him look it up no matter how simple the word is.
Only very few dictionaries have full definitions for such words, but often then they have no examples.
Words like "a" "the" "and" are really parts of language-construction and are more complex than they seem.
A simple grammar book should be at hand in any course room and in any Word Clearing session.
The best grammar textbooks are those made for persons studying English as a foreign language. The point is, they don't suppose that the student already 'knows all that'.
When picking a grammar textbook, make sure it uses lots of examples when explaining things.
If a student is very ignorant or 'stupid' about grammar it is best to make him do a whole simple grammar text first before he begins to get into just words. Without the grammar the words won’t hang together for him.
It is quicker to do a short grammar course than to struggle with grammatical misunderstoods throughout study.
Example: The student is reading, "the size was Gargantuan." He looks up Gargantuan. The dictionary says, "Like Gargantua, huge." Student uses "huge" as a synonym and reads the text line "The size was ‘huge’". He reads on but is still unable to understand the paragraph below "the size was Gargantuan".
The student thinks to himself, "Well it doesn’t work. The theory said the student goes blank after passing a word he does not have a definition for and brightens up again the moment he spots the word that wasn’t understood". The brightening up actually happens as a result of spotting the word whether one defines the word or not. One then has the word looked up and cleared before going on. But to put another word in the place of the existing word won't do. In the example, "Huge" is not "Gargantuan". These are synonyms. The sentence is "The size was Gargantuan." The sentence was not "The size was huge." You can’t really substitute one word for another and get anything but an alteration. So something remains not understood and is still there and causing trouble.