Vocabulary is important for comprehension. Readers can’t understand what they read without knowing what most words mean. The most profitable and enduring manner through which to strengthen vocabulary skills is to teach students to use word structure to determine meaning. This study is called morphology.
As discussed in my book, School Success for Students with Dyslexia and Other Reading Difficulties, the English language is composed of a mixture of other linguistic influences. Here, the linguistic influences come in the form of how we construct the words that compose our spoken and written language. The three main linguistic models of word construction that constitute the English language are Latinate Word Construction (55%), Anglo-Saxon Word Construction (25%), and Greek Word Construction (11%). In order to successfully master our language, students must receive adequate exposure to the components of each of these three linguistic influences. This includes the foundational affixes and roots of Latinate word construction and the combining forms (roots) of Greek word construction. Students will encounter Latinate word construction in approximately the fourth grade, and they will encounter Greek word construction in approximately the seventh grade. Exposure to these two word constructions will prepare students for mastering advanced vocabulary. While we can never make dictionaries obsolete, through the study of morphology, we can make them less necessary. Additionally, students should be encouraged to read a variety of grade-level texts to acquire new vocabulary through the identification of these Latinate roots and Greek combining forms in action.