Rather than introducing a brand-new word in isolation, teacher should introduce students come a rich range of words that share the same root. This strategy should aid diverse learners consisting of English language learners, make necessary connections among vocabulary words in ~ the exact same family, and also transfer core ideas throughout content areas.

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In theory, it need to be reasonably easy for educators to connect the language by introducing related vocabulary in clusters that cross contents domains. Fairly than presenting a indigenous in isolation, we could surround it with household members that share the very same root. This strategy should assist diverse learners, including English-minority students, make essential vocabulary connections and also transfer core ideas across content.

Students are exposed to wealth of terms across the K-12 continually — native that might be connected in the psychological lexicon to encourage retention and also retrieval (Reichle & Perfetti, 2003). Because that example, the word thermometer may show up in a second-grade science curriculum, the related words thermal and also geothermic several years later, and also exothermic reactions show up in center school. Adolescents may read about hypothermia in literature selections or in wellness class. The high-school science text may incorporate thermonuclear or thermoelectricity. Meanwhile, in ~ home, families might speak that a thermostat or a thermos. In ~ which point throughout the K-12 continuum does the student recognize the pattern innate in these meanings and spellings? Some might naturally number out the all this words re-superstructure the very same root (therm) and also pertain to "heat". Others might never make that connection without help. They space unlikely to independently identify the meaning of thermodynamics through evaluation of indigenous structure. Such students space stymied till they learn the fundamental building blocks of the English language. We might start teaching commonly occurring roots by fourth grade:

The end of 3rd grade is the time to introduce students to the Latin roots and Greek combining creates used generally in social studies, math, and also science texts learning these crucial patterns offers strategies for not only decoding and also spelling but also for expanding expressive and also receptive vocabulary. (Henry, 2003, p. 101-102)

The English language is perhaps overwhelming. About 70% of the words have from Latin, French, or Greek, and around 22% from German (Finkenstaedt & Wolff, 1973). Furthermore, the language is large, with practically one million meaningful lexemes, consisting of words, idioms (we can"t skipping figurative language), prefixes, roots, and suffixes (Crystal, 1995, global Language Monitor, 2009). Offered the scope and also complexity of the language, that behooves us to aid learners procedure and classify connected concepts. One means we can do this is through meaning-bearing morphemes, such as roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Around 88,500 unique root households of words show up in college texts (credible, incredible, credibility, credulous), and about 60% that the native encountered in varied textbooks might be deciphered by examining the morphemes inside the word and also the context in the bordering sentences (Nagy & Anderson, 1984).

To promote this process, educators could expose the root in swarm of related words. Because that example, in figure 1 each word shares the same root -prim- definition "first or before." This is a morphological family members of words, and also such relationships have been presented to facilitate reading (Carlisle & Katz, 2006).


Seeking connections

With just a little practice, recognizing root becomes fairly easy. Because that example, the indigenous bat, battle, battalion, combat, combatant, combative, battering ram and also debate save the root -bat- definition "to beat." draw close these related words through their mutual root offers a method to decode, encode, and also decipher meanings. In fact, most states publish academic standards that call for students to analysis the morphemes to determine word meaning. However, there is inconsistency between scholastic standards and also pre-service teacher education, so part educators carry out not understand morphology (Moats & Foorman, 2003) yet they may enjoy learning with their students. Thus, "Even while castle teach, males learn" (Seneca).

Teaching new words was subordinated come the goal of teaching around words — miscellaneous kinds of information around words the could assist children figure out interpretations on your own. (Carlo et al., 2004, p. 205)

Students needn"t end up being linguists — they need to end up being curious. A an excellent deal could be achieved by simply seeking root relationships in words. Each teacher thinks beyond his/her domain to broad common usage, giving for deliver of ideas and revealing source families. Because that example, the mathematics teacher may expose the root -equi- an interpretation "same or equal" in the terms equate, equation, equidistant, and equivalent, and link it come the location term equator or the civics state equal rights and equity. Likewise, the background teacher could draw from that same financial institution of indigenous — consisting of the math terms — when discussing equality or inequity. Together applicable, the Spanish cognate igualar could be connected to the English equivalent equal. Working together, educators help students bridge the language by drawing attention come the root and also revealing families of associated words, as illustrated in figure 2 for photo, definition "light."


Gradually, intermediary and second students should begin to recognize that most words space structured follow to logical fads of definition and spelling. Coupled with context clues, a morphological approach may benefit diverse learners, especially English Language learner (Carlo et al., 2004; Kieffer & Lesaux, 2007). Indigenous a classroom perspective, Gloria Ramirez, ELL teacher, has properly capitalized ~ above morphemes and also cognates in center school instruction:

Personally, ns have found that my intermediate-level ELL students have the right to feel successful and also are successful once they have learned the an interpretation of affixes and roots. I uncover that your spelling improves as well as their vocabulary. Cognates are an extremely important. Because that instance, sincere in Spanish is sincero, sincerity is sinceridad and also sincerely is sinceramente. The roots space the same and just as we add different suffix to adjust the grammatical part of decided in English, so we do likewise in Spanish. The concept transfers easily. (personal communication, march 2, 2004)


Students benefit from learning the most usual prefixes (Graves, 2004). This affixes contribute a good deal to meaning, as viewed in the distinction been the indigenous benediction (blessing) and malediction (curse). Again, think about the strength of the prefix in the related academic words interior, exterior, posterior, anterior, and also ulterior. Scientific research teachers could reinforce these prefixes together students examine and label components of the brain, the atom, etc. Literary works teachers can bridge to ulterior motive, while history teachers link to Department the the Interior, interior exploration, etc. Several of the much more common prefixes are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: typical PrefixesPrefix definition Examples
un- not, opposite unkind, uncertain, unchanging
re- back, again replay, regress, reform
in- (im-, il-, ir-) not inedible, immortal, illegitimate, irreversible
dis- not, opposite disagree, disharmony, disintegration
en- (em-) to make, cause, put enlighten, encompass, embark, empower
non- not nonsense, nonfiction, nonpartisan
in- (im-) inside, within insight, introvert, insert, implant, import
over- above, superior overlord, oversight, overarching
mis- wrong, bad mistrust, misnomer, misconstrue
sub- under, less subtract, submarine, substation, subset
pre- before preheat, predict, preposition
inter- between interstate, international
fore- before forewarn, forerunner, before
de- remove, from derail, dethrone, deduct
trans- across, through transcontinental, transfer
ex-, exo-, e- out exhale, exit, exoskeleton, evaporation
com (cor, col, con) with, together committee, correspond, colleague, congress

Note: adjusted from Carroll, Davies, and Richman, 1971.

English teachers could introduce usual prefixes (such as trans- in transfer) and content teacher reinforce them. Because that example, background teachers might expose the prefix and also reveal the relationship in between transportation, Transcontinental Railroad, Transatlantic Exploration, and Transcendental Meditation, help students deduce that all terms contain the prefix trans-, meaning "across" or "through." health teachers could discuss transfections, trans fatty acids, and also blood transfusions, while in science, students construct lexical bridges come transmitters and transponders. Every teachers would link the targeted vocabulary to connected words past their domain. They needn"t recognize what various other teachers room teaching; they just need come make relationships to associated words. Through this type of "transdisciplinary vocabulary outreach," the language may shrink as the learner"s vocabulary grows.

Numeric Prefixes

As they normally teach their subject matter, math and also science teachers room strategically positioned to suggest out the meanings of numeric prefixes, such as mono, bi, tri as presented in Table 2. Lock might start with less complicated words (tricycle, triangle, monoxide) and development to more complicated vocabulary (triaxial, trilobite, trisoctahedron, polycarbonate). Likewise, mythology teachers can expose the 3 prongs the Neptune"s trident if music teachers define the difference between monotone, duet, trio, and also quartet. Background teachers could attach to the roman triumvirate. Taking another root, they could explain that the native century, centurion, centipede, and also percent all share the source centum meaning "hundred." with instruction in morphology, students can note the numeric prefix in words prefer bicentennial, decades, and hemisphere. Time invested in learning numeric prefixes should be worthwhile.

Table 2: Numeric PrefixesMeaning Greek Latin examples
1 mono uni monotone, monoxide, unicorn, unicycle
2 di bi, du, duo dioxide, dilemma, binoculars, bipartisan, duet
3 tri tri triangle, tricycle, triplicate, triumvirate
4 tetra quad (quart) tetrahedron, quadruplets, quartet, quarter
5 penta quint pentagon, iambic pentameter, quintuplets, quintet
6 hexa sext hexagon, sextuplets
8 octo octo octopus, October, octagon, octave
10 deca deci decade, decathlon, decimal, December, decimate
100 (hector) cent century, centipede, centurion, cents, percentage
1000 kilo mille kilometer, kilobyte, millennium, milliliter
part, half hemi semi hemisphere, semicolon, semiconductor
many poly multi polygon, monopoly, multiply, multilingual


A couple of suffixes appear frequently in social studies. Because that instance, the suffix "“ism meaning "belief or practice" wake up in famous words favor alcoholism or vandalism and in lesser-known terms prefer feudalism, fanaticism, and also capitalism. Background students need to come to be comfortable v the derivational suffixes "“ist and also "“istic, as in separatist, abolitionist, communistic, socialistic. Cross domains, arts teachers reinforce this suffix with the state photorealistic, pointillism, and also impressionism. There are at least a dozen derivational suffixes that show up frequently in indigenous (see Ebbers, 2004; Henry, 2003; Moats, 2000).

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Linking Morpheme Clues and Context Clues

Proficient reader look at context clues as well as morpheme clues to identify word an interpretation when reading independently. However, larger students might not normally know just how to do this — some may not even realize that such ideas exist, or they might not use context and morphemic hints together (Wysocki & Jenkins, 1987). In every domain, teachers might model this strategy. They could guide the process, encouraging learner to accessibility the context external the word and also the morphemes within the word. This strategy has been proven somewhat effective in analysis subject-matter messages (Baumann et al., 2002). For an example of this method, see likewise Ebbers and Denton (2008).