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Greek and Latin Roots

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

Did you know that while phonological awareness is an important predictor in primary grades, morphological awareness is a more accurate predictor of reading abilities in intermediate grades? (Whissell-Turner & Fejzo, 2021). Today we are going to be diving into the reasons why we teach Greek and Latin roots in our junior and intermediate grade students.


Root vs Root Word

If the root is able to stand on it’s own, we can consider it to be a root word. Example: Misspell - Spell can stand alone as a word

If the root is not able to stand on its own, we consider it to be a root. Example: reject - ject is a root and has meaning but it can not stand alone as a word. Ject is actually a Latin root; it means ‘to throw’.


Why teach Latin and Greek Roots?

You might not realize this, but Greek and Latin roots are very frequent in academic texts and English expository texts. 60%-80% of words are of Greek or Latin origin in English expository texts (Whissell-Turner & Fejzo, 2021). When students know Greek and Latin roots, they can use that knowledge to determine the meaning of words formed with that root. Whissell-Turner and Fejzo (2021) found a relationship between the knowledge of Greek and Latin roots, reading comprehension and vocabulary.


This aligns with our past blog on Scarborough’s Reading Rope. If becoming a skilled reader requires Language Comprehension (vocabulary being a strand within it), Latin and Greek roots can be a valuable part of literacy instruction.


Example of a Greek Root

Here is a quick example of how understanding roots can give you a hint about a word’s meaning.


‘Hydro’ is a Greek root. Knowing that hydro means water can help a student determine the meaning of the following words:

Hydroplane

Hydraulic

Hydrate

Hydration

Hydroelectricity

Hydrophobia

And more!


Even within these words there are additional morphemes that can be explored but knowing just ‘hydro’ gives you a hint about the word meaning.


Morphological instruction as early as first grade has been shown to support reading comprehension. As students progress, morphological instruction becomes as an increasingly important part of their literary instruction (Whissell-Turner & Fejzo, 2021). At Latch Onto Learning, we want your child to become a skilled reader so we have researched the best practices and do our very best at delivering high quality programming for your child.


Whissell-Turner, Kathleen & Fejzo, Anila (2001). Knowledge of Greek and Latin Roots is Related to Reading Comprehension among French-Speaking Sixth Graders. Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics: 24, 3 (pg. 61-78)

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