Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to Use LATIN and GREEK Affixes to Expand Academic Vocabulary Base for ELLs and Others

How do students make major jumps in their knowledge of academic vocabulary?  They achieve this goal through mastery of some key affixes.  With just a few, vocabulary bases grow.  Here is a fun rap on affixes.  It drives home the point with ease AND kids will like it:   FUN RAP ON AFFIXES   The song covers just a few, but that is enough to make the point that being familiar with a few can expand one's vocabulary with ease.

Ideally, the instruction should be tied to the work they are studying.  This way teachers can spend time on reinforcing the concept.  For example, the GEOLOGY has the root GEO (earth) and LOGY (the study of).  From that word, there is the adjective GEOLOGIC and the adverb GEOLOGICALLY.  Break the word down into its components.  Bring in the use of the suffix to identify the part of speech.  The more affixes they know, the more their vocabulary base will grow.  It is also never too early to learn.  Elementary school students start exploring it in the early grades so they have a head start on many of the older ELLs.  Tie it to what students are studying, give points for applying their new skills outside of class, bring in games with prizes, create class competitions on affixes, have kids create their own words to test classmates on (lots of fun), bingo, etc.   All of this leads to a better grasp of academic text, literature, and higher test scores on college entrance exams. 

If you need some lists of common affixes, I have the following two: 

PREFIX SUFFIX CHARTS AND MORE Pick the affixes which work for your discipline.  You can do a copy and paste.  This will allow you the freedom to pull affixes out as needed or to create personalized reference sheets for your students.  One more comment on the need to allocate time on this area of vocabulary development comes from


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