Friday, September 24, 2010

Topic: Morphology

10-second review: A Principle for teaching morphology.

Title: “Morphing Into Adolescents: Active Word Learning for English-language Learners and their Classmates in Middle School.” MJ Kieffer and NK Lesaux. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (September 2010), 47-56.

Principle: “Morphology should be taught in the context of rich vocabulary instruction. Teaching about word parts is most successful when teachers combine it with rich and direct instruction in specific words.”

Comment: Use words that are unfamiliar and useful in breaking the word into affixes or roots that provide clues to meaning –alter ego–other self, ambidextrous—both hands are “right hands” or skilled hands. These can lead to other words—egotist, egoist, alternate, alternative, ambivalent, etc.

In pre-teaching words from a textbook chapter, for example, note, especially, words that have affixes or roots that provide clues to meaning and can be the source of related words.

The best commercial vocabulary book on the market is Norman Lewis’s Word Power Made Easy. You can find it on It is organized around affixes and roots and makes learning words, not only easy to remember, but fun, rewarding, and entertaining. The words he teaches are the kinds of words that used to be on the SAT Verbal Section, three-fourths of which was based on vocabulary—antonyms, analogies and sentence completions. RayS.

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