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Words in Context

Much of what you understand in academic reading is based on your knowledge of key vocabulary words.  Sometimes not knowing key words can cause you to misunderstand an author's meaning.  Questions on the TABE that ask for vocabulary in context have two basic formats.  The first asks you to consider the overall meaning of the reading passage or the meaning of specific parts of the passage and select a word that describes that meaning.  See Questions 2 below.  The second type of queston requires you to select a word that means the same as word found in the passage (see Question 2 below).

Sample Reading Passage: This passage is about Alaskan Native people

Alaskan Native People

The name “Native Alaskan” is used to collectively identify the indigenous people of Alaska. In the past, they were subsistence hunters and gatherers who depended on the oceans and rivers for marine mammals and fish and were distinguishable by their areas of settlement and languages. Some groups had permanent villages, for example, those in the Aleutian Islands. Others, such as Eskimos, had different winter and summer settlements.

The Eskimos and Aleutians comprise the two largest groups of Native Alaskans. There are two subgroups of Eskimo. Originally, Iñupiat Eskimos are from the northwest, on the coastline of the Artic Ocean and the Bering Sea. The Yup’ik Eskimos are from the southwest, on the coastline of the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. The Siberian Yup’ik Eskimos are from Saint Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea near Russia. The Aleutians are from the western part of Alaska Peninsula and the many large and small Aleutian Islands that extend hundreds of kilometers into the northern Pacific Ocean. Smaller groups of Native Alaskans include the Athabascans, who originally inhabited the eastern interior of Alaska and the Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and Alutiiq groups who are from the coast and islands of the southeast.

Native Alaskans did not escape the violence, disease, and misunderstanding that other indigenous people of the Americas suffered from European explorers and settlers. Fortunately, the Eskimos, Aleutians, and other Native Alaskans have survived the turmoil and change imposed by Russians, Americans, Canadians, Japanese, and other newcomers to their ancestral lands.

One of the greatest changes, which was set in place when the Danish captain Vitus Bering “discovered” Alaska, and which has affected the lives of Native Alaskans ever since, is the transition from traditional subsistence living to a cash economy. Modern transportation and communications have also altered the way of life for Native Alaskans, even those living in the most remote villages. In 1971, through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, 17.8 million hectares (44 million acres) and almost $1 billion were paid to Native Alaskans as compensation for the lands and livelihoods they had lost since 1867. The land and money were divided among newly established Native corporations that represented Native groups and villages.  Today, Native Alaskans make up about 17 percent of the state’s population of approximately 640,000 people.

(source: adapted from English Teaching Forum, July 2002.  Written by William Ancker. )   

1. Read the sentence and the question.  Then decide which word best fills the blank.
        Native Alaskans populations were ______________ by the early interactions between European explorers and settlers.

   Which of these words means that the Native Alaskans populations were destroyed?
    A. decimated
    B. encouraged
    C. intensified
    D. identified

2. The reading passage about Native Alaskans says that the name "Native Alaskan" is used to collectively identify the indigenous people of Alaska.  Indiginous means the same as 

    A. Foreign
    B. Common
    C. Original
    D. Realistic

1. A
2. C