Vocabulary Development

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Logic of English instruction explicitly teaches the concept of morphemes, which provides students with an understanding that all words are written with units of meaning. Morphemes provide students with additional strategies for decoding, spelling, and developing a large vocabulary. Logic of English lessons utilize morphology to aid students in reading and spelling:

  • Irregular words
  • Multi-syllable words
  • Words with affixes

In teaching morphemes, often the reason for the spellings of words which do not follow the phonics rules becomes clearer. For example though we cannot hear the W in two , it is plainly heard in the related words: twin, twice, twelve.

Morphology also helps students to learn the meaning of “big words.” Since 90% of multisyllabic words are based upon Latin roots, knowledge of roots provides students with an additional strategy for making meaning of an unknown word.

Logic of English students are also explicitly taught how to add prefixes and suffixes and what they mean. This knowledge again provides critical clues about a word’s meaning.

While reading is a key path to developing a large vocabulary, large vocabularies are also a key to reading comprehension. The most efficient approach to developing vocabulary is to understand that every word in English is comprised of both phonemes, units of sounds, and morphemes, units of meaning.

When students learn the phonograms combined with morphemes, they develop two paths in the brain to use in ascertaining meaning: the phonological path and the lexical path. The lexical areas of the brain (the middle temporal lobe) are where words are understood if the word’s pronunciation does not reflect its exact spelling, and also where the brain stores the meaning of prefixes, base words, and suffixes (Dehaene, 2009; Diggory, 1992).

In strong readers the brain uses two pathways to derive meaning: the lexical and the phonological routes (Dehaene, 2009). When students are provided with explicit instruction in the morphemes of words, they are then able to use this information to parse a word using the lexical encoding as well as the phonemic encoding, leading to deeper comprehension of a text.

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Dehaene, S. (2009). Reading in the brain: the science and evolution of a human invention. New York: Viking.

Diggory, S. (1992). The learning-disabled child. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Moats, L. C. (1994). The missing foundation in teacher education: Knowledge of the structure of spoken and written language. Annals of Dyslexia, 44, 81-102.

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