When Joshua and I teach vocabulary, we try to do a few things:
1. Relate the word to anything we think the students might already know. (“Aquaduct? Well, you know what aquatic means, don’t you?”)
Of course, this is where we say, “You know more than you think you know!”
2. We ask the students if they can tell us anything about the word based on the context. Is it happy or sad? Is there a word near that word that helps you?
3. We help them examine the type of word it is. We say over and over to them that OUS words are often adjectives (delicious) and ATE words can often be verbs.
4. We help the students examine roots and affixes.
a. Prefix–an affix (“stuck on”) to the beginning of a word
b. Suffix–affix added to the end of a word
We also give the students tools all the time. Below is a list of prefixes and suffixes that we give to our students and discuss with them, along with their meanings.
Be a lifelong student! If you are an adult, these vocabulary tips will still help you every day.
(a) GEN–birth, race, kind
generous, generate, generation, geneology, gender
(b) DIC, DICT, DIT–tell, say, word
dictate, verdict, edict, contradict, predict, diction, indict
(c) SPEC, SPIC, SPIT–look, see
perspective, aspect, spectator, spectacle, suspect
(d) SUPER, SUR, SUM—above
surpass, summit, supersede, superstition
(e) TENT, TENS, TEND, TENU–stretch, thin
tension, extend, tendency, tendon, tent, distend
transfer, transient, transitory, transgress, transport
(g) DOC, DUC, DAC–teach, lead
conduct, document, doctrine, induce, indoctrinate
(h) CO, CON, COM-with, together
company, collaborate, comply, congruent,
(i) VERS, VERT—turn
convert, revert, subvert, divert, diverse, extrovert, versatile
(j) LOC, LOG, LOQU–word, speech
eloquent, logic, apology, monologue, dialogue, prologue
(k) SEN–feel, sense
sensitive, sensation, consent, dissent, assent, sentiment
(l) DE–away, down, off
denounce, defraud, decry, deplete, devoid, defile
(m) NOM, NOUN, NOWN, NAM, NYM–name, order, rule
anonymous, nominate, renounce, renown, misnomer
(n) CLA, CLO, CLU–shut, close
closet, enclose, disclose, include, conclude, seclude
(o) VO, VOC, VOK, VOW—call
vocal, advocate, vocation, convoke, revoke, avow
malicious, malady, dismal, malign, malevolent
(q) FRA, FRAC, FRAG—break
fracture, fraction, fragment, fragile, frail, fractious
objective, obsolete, obscure, obstruct, obstinate
submissive, subordinate, sublime, subtle, subversion
(t) AB–from, away
abandon, abhor, abstain, absolve, abstruse, abstract
(u) GRESS, GRAD—step
progress, regress, gradual, digress, degrade, transgress
(v) SEC, SEQU—follow
second, sequel, sequence, consequence, prosecute
(w) PRO–much, for, a lot
prolific, profuse, prodigal, prtracted, prodigy, propensity
(x) QUE, QUIS–ask, seek
inquire, question, request, quest, query, acquire, querulous
(y) SACR, SANCT, SECR—sacred
sacrifice, sanctuary, sanctify, sanction, consecrate
(z) SCRIB, SCRIP—write
scribble, describe, script, prescribe, ascribe, inscribe
(aa) PATHY, PAS, PAT—feeling
apathy, sympathy, empathy, antipathy, passionate
(bb) DIS, DIF—not
disdain, dissuade, dismay, disparate, disparage
circumference, circulation, circumstances, circumvent
(dd) NON, UN, IN, AN, A–no or not
nonviolent, uncooperative, inappreciative, anonymous
adhere, adjective, addict, adverb
infrastructure, infraction, infrared, infra-bass
You know what one of my least favorite words is? FACADE.
First of all, I work week in and week out to try to teach that an A, O, U, or most consonants make the C say “kuh.” That would make this word fuh-kade, right? (Or even fay-kade.) Unfortunately, that is wrong.
It is pronounced fuh-sodd. (That A really doesn’t make the C say “kuh.”)
That clearly makes this word a FAKE, which is one of its only redeeming qualities–it means what it looks like! Smile…
That bring us to the second aspect of the word–its meaning. It is a noun that means “a face of a building or a superficial appearance.”
In that regard, it is as it is pronounced–even though it isn’t pronounced like it is spelled (which is true of many words that came from somewhere else).
So it is easy to learn the meaning of—it has to do with what it sounds like–FACE (albeit, a fake face). But it is not spelled as one would think.
So, don’t put on a facade today! Don’t try to put on a superficial front or fake face. Be yourself!
Do you remember how I talked earlier about how we (and our students if we are teachers) know much more than we think we do! There is no place that this is more apparent than vocabulary learning!
Root words, and sometimes even syllables, have meaning. And we often already know meanings of bits and pieces that we can put together to gain more knowledge. (If you know a foreign language, you will have even more success unlocking unknown words or parts of words since much of our language is taken from other languages.)
How can you use this concept to help you or your students? When you come to an unfamiliar word, don’t assume that you do not know it. Look more closely at the word. (And help your kids to do the same—question them all the time: “What do you know about the ‘aqua’ part of aquamarine?” [Or even, “What do you know about the ‘marine’ part?”)
Today’s root is SPEC, SPIC, or SPIT
It means LOOK or SEE
What do you already know about these “spec,” “spic,” and “spit” words?
- Perspective—seeing a point of view
- Aspect—one part or one thing you can see
- Spectator—one who sees
- Spectacle—a sight to see
- Suspect—a person you see that might be guilty
Keep reading. Keep asking yourself what you already know!