morphology

What is it?

Morphology is the study of meaningful units of language, called morphemes, and how they are combined in forming words. For example, the word contradiction can be broken up as contra-dict-ion, with the prefix contra- (against), the root word dict (to speak), and the suffix –ion (a verbal action).

 

morphology

What is it?

Morphology is the study of meaningful units of language, called morphemes, and how they are combined in forming words. For example, the word contradiction can be broken up as contra-dict-ion, with the prefix contra- (against), the root word dict (to speak), and the suffix –ion (a verbal action).

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are morphological skills important to literacy?

Learning about the meaningful relationships between words, including how they sound, how they’re spelled, and what their morphological structure is, contributes to vocabulary knowledge as well as reading comprehension.

Strong correlations have been found between morphological awareness and success in reading, writing and spelling.

When is it appropriate to begin instruction to develop students’ morphological awareness?

Students understand and use basic morphological knowledge as early as kindergarten and first grade.  Begin by teaching the plural marker (pronounced /s/ and /z/) and past tense –ed (pronounced /id/, /d/, /t/) as students sort pictures.  When students understand these endings, called inflectional morphemes, move on to compound words (cowboy, moonlight).

Do root word and base word mean the same thing?

Root and base word are two different concepts.  Base word refers to a word stripped of its affixes. For example, spell is the base word in spelling and misspell; whereas, a root refers to a word part from an original language, such as Latin or Greek. For example, cred is the root in incredible and credit. Unlike a base word, a root cannot stand alone but is used to form a family of words with related meanings.

What is the difference between word division by syllable vs. by morpheme?

Syllables are units of sound organized around a vowel, and they do not necessarily convey meaning.  In contrast, morphemes are units of meaning that can be found across multiple English words.  The same word may be divided differently depending on whether it is broken down by syllable (sound) or morpheme (meaning). For example, the word contradiction may be divided by syllable (con-tra-dic-tion) or by morpheme (contra-dict-ion).  Proficient readers analyze words at the morpheme level because it enables them to directly get at the meaning of words.

Teacher tip: deconstruct, reconstruct words

Students should learn to deconstruct and reconstruct words.  They can use word-part clue analysis to look “inside” a word for meaningful units—affix(es) and/or root(s).  They can then reconstruct the original word from its component morphemes.  See this sample word card.

Teacher tip: contextualize

Morphology should be taught within the context of vocabulary instruction as a strategy for understanding the relationships among words based on their shared meaningful units – i.e., their bases/roots, prefixes, and suffixes.

Teacher tip: Teach affixes & roots

Teach prefixes, suffixes, and roots that appear most frequently in English and have the greatest utility for language arts and content area materials.  For example, the 20 most common prefixes make up 97% of all prefixed words.

Teacher tip: Use Word Webs

Use word webs to teach a root or baseword and its derivative forms.  This activity helps students see the interconnections among words and facilitates word storage and word retrieval.

Tips for Principals: Read more, do more

Select one of the recommended articles and have teachers discuss it at a grade-level meeting.  Ask teachers to provide one example of how they plan to teach morphology more explicitly and a time of day when you might observe this practice.

Tips for Principals:PD

Provide professional development for your teachers to increase their awareness of morphology, as well as its important role in vocabulary development and improving students’ reading and spelling skills.

Read More 

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