I saw another example this week (post here).
Some combinations of words are possible in English, while others are not possible. Every native speaker of English can easily judge that ‘Home computers are now much cheaper’ is a possible English sentence, whereas “Home computers now much are cheaper” is not, because they know that “much” is wrongly positioned in the second example. The ability to recognise such distinctions is evidence that in some sense native speakers already know the rules of grammar, even if they have never formally studied grammar….”Most of my students did not know what the words "such distinctions" referred to. They did not know that the authors were alluding to the distinction they had just made, in the previous sentence, between ‘Home computers are now much cheaper’ and 'Home computers now much are cheaper.'
An Introduction to English Grammar by Sidney Greenbaum and Gerald Nelson
My students understood the first two sentences of the paragraph perfectly. That wasn't the problem.
They were having a specific problem with the words "such distinctions." They believed that the author had brought up a new issue referring to something 'out in the world,' and they were stumped because they couldn't tell what that new issue might be. What distinctions, out in the world, were the authors talking about?
So now we're focusing directly and explicitly on anaphora in the texts we read.
At the moment I'm thinking you could produce a huge jump in reading comprehension in an awful lot of students just by teaching anaphora comprehension explicitly and making sure students become fluent in reading and understanding anaphora.
I'm also thinking this may be a skill students can pick up quickly.