Introduction to Greek and Latin Roots Vocabulary and Spelling

When I earned my Master’s in Teaching, Greek and Latin Roots Vocabulary and Spelling  study was the rage in the middle schools of our district, and when I did my student teaching, I continued the program as laid out by my mentor teacher. By the end of the year, I was hooked. Why? Latin, after all, is a dead language.

But is it? Latin, as a spoken language may be extinct, but English (and French, and Spanish, and all kinds of other European languages are littered with its bones!) The same goes for Greek, even as it continues a living breathing language to this very day.

For students who have been doing the same old spelling drills for years, I found the vocabulary/spelling study of words using classical roots was a great way to provide a little variety, build their vocabularies and word deciphering skills, and continue to reinforce patterns of spelling that occur in longer and more complex words.

Not content (never content…but that’s another story) simply to use my mentor teacher’s program, I started doing research, building a list of roots and words of my own, and creating a Greek and Latin Root Vocabulary/Spelling program that I refined, year after year.

Today, I’ll just briefly introduce the basics of the program. It features:

  • A list of new roots, their definitions, and a sample word using each root presented every two weeks.
  • The use of a pretest, of just the spelling of the words, to determine who needs a simplified spelling list, who needs a challenge list, and who will find the general list just right for their level of development.
  • A review list of the roots and their definitions from the past two units.
  • Time—twice in class and once as homework—for the students to work with the roots and their meanings, and their words.
  • A test at the end of the two weeks. It is first administered like a spelling test for the words. Then, with roots provided either on the computer/overhead, whiteboard, or a preprinted sheet, the students are required to write in the meaning of each root from memory.

My goal this school year is to provide you with twelve lists of roots and words for your middle level students. (For older elementary-age kids you might consider using the simplified list, if you’re working with high school students, perhaps the challenge list.)

In later posts I will share a number of the methods I adopted and devised to help my students learn these roots and make them their own.

I hope you find this little jaunt into word history as intriguing as I did.

Watch, tomorrow, for your first list of Greek and Latin Roots Vocabulary and Spelling Words.