Getting to the
Root of Vocabulary
Vocabulary skills are so important!
Researchers are showing that children often learn how to use words by inference. They determine the meaning of words by their visual, audio, and physical context.
As they get older, students need to build the number and depth of words they acquire because now, instead of just speaking to family and peers where they can use facial expression, hand gestures, and body language to help them get their meaning across they need to learn to communicate through the written word. When they write, they have only the words they have mastered to bring forth all that they want to communicate.
They must keep their writing interesting and they must be able to find the specific words that express their exact thoughts. Painting visual pictures, developing a character or plot will all require a young author to draw upon his acquired word bank.
In addition, older students need to be reading more difficult fiction and nonfiction. Reading comprehension will be much easier at these higher levels if they have a built-in knowledge of the Latin and Greek roots that make up so much of English word structure.
Encourage your children to keep a pocket dictionary handy when they are reading so that they can quickly look up any words that are new to them. You may want to have them write these words in a notebook as they come across them and use them as part of their spelling work also.
But the best way to help children decipher the meaning of words on their own is by helping them master the Latin and Greek roots from which much of our English language is derived.
Once they know, for instance, that ‘photo’ means light, they can begin to know the meaning of any word that has ‘photo’ in it such as photography, or photosynthesis. Learning these ‘word roots’ is an integral part of becoming a better reader and writer.
Below are links to the most widely used resources available for accomplishing these goals:
English From the Roots Up
This program has an interactive approach to teaching the Latin and Greek Roots of 100 important words using index cards and activities to accomplish mastery.
Vocabulary From Classical Roots
Uses a standard but thorough workbook approach to consistantly building your students' vocabulary.
Available in workbooks or on an interactive CD-ROM, Word Roots is a favorite with homeschoolers.
Wordly Wise 3000
Wordly Wise 3000 uses the workbook approach to teaching vocabulary. It does not focus on word roots but provides a core vocabulary of 3000 words to enhance speech and writing skills.
Learn and reinforce Greek and Latin Word Roots by playing a game! There are 3 levels of play to increase difficulty and keep it challenging.
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