Root Words and Meaning A – Z

List of blog posts on root words from Latin and Greek and their meanings.

Some knowledge of root words and meanings can really help students when guessing the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary in exam conditions. Some of these words are quite advanced but particularly useful for students studying English for Academic or Specific Purposes (particularly Medicine and Law).

The lists are not particularly inspiring. I generally use them for students to refer to when these roots come up in class, they become familiar over time.

Word Roots and Meaning A, B, C

Word Roots and Meaning D – J

Word Roots and Meaning L – N

Word Roots and Meaning O – R

Word Roots and Meaning S – V

Vocabulary Profiling 2

Have a look at ‘Vocabulary Profiling 1‘ for reasons to profile vocabulary.

LexTutor is a little less user-friendly than VocabKitchen (you may not want students to try it themselves) but offers some additional features.

One of these gives you the Type-Token Ratio (TTR) of your text. This is the number of word types against the number of word tokens. If you have the word ‘the’ 12 times in a text, that’s 12 tokens, but 1 type. The TTR indicates lexical variation (the higher the number, the more varied the vocabulary). When I did my first degree we had to count each word and each type and calculate this ourselves (I like LexTutor!).

Another feature LexTutor offers is calculating the Lexical Density of a text. This is the number of content words as opposed to function words in a text. The higher the Lexical Density, the more complex the language.

LexTutor also allows you to check your text against different corpora than VocabKitchen. As well as the Academic Word List (AWL), you can check against the BNC-COCA (which is similar to the CEFR in VocabKitchen).


Vocabulary Profiling 1

How do you decide on the vocabulary to teach students?
Which vocabulary in a given text would you want students to learn and which items could you just gloss?
If you use a course book, you probably don’t really think about this but if you’re adapting resources (either authentic materials or changing the level of ELT materials), these are important questions.
Usually, I think it’s a mixture of experience and guesswork. And, arguably, for general EFL classes that’s fine.
But, how do you choose the vocabulary you will focus on if you’re teaching courses in specialist subjects you don’t have as much experience in?
What if you want to prove to your students that those particular vocabulary items are useful?
What if you want students to be able to assess their own use of vocabulary in written work, in terms of level?
Vocabulary Profiling is the answer!
I’ve just discovered (through the CertPT in EAP) VocabKitchen and LexTutor. They’re really exciting and they’re free to use!
Using VocabKitchen you can check a text against CEFR levels, the Academic Word List (AWL) and the New Academic Word List (NWAL).
You can use it to choose which words to teach or change or to get students to profile their own writing. You might want to point out, if using the CEFR list, that the majority of words will be highlighted in blue (A1 level) if the text is grammatically correct. Also, students should note that this only indicates the level of discrete lexical items, idiomatic phrases or collocations which would be considered ‘advanced’ won’t necessarily be highlighted as advanced.
For help using LexTutor, have a look at Vocabulary Profiling 2


Teaching Effective Thinking: Game – Devil’s Advocate

This is a good activity for critical thinking, it helps when practicing or reviewing discussion language. You will need cards with discussion expressions on them. In a previous activity you could get students to classify these according to function (see below). Read more

Teaching Effective Thinking: Games – The Brick Test

This is probably the most well-known ‘creative thinking’ activity. You may know it as ‘The Alternative Uses Test’. Show the class a brick and ask them to think of ways in which it can be used. They need to come up with as many ideas as they can in, say, 5 minutes. There are no bad ideas. You could brainstorm in a tradition, whole class way, or use a brainwriting technique (see last blog post). Read more

Teaching Effective Thinking: Brainstorming and Brainwriting

This is my second blog post on promoting creativity in the classroom, following on from EAP Teaching Effective Thinking: Introduction.

Read more

EAP: Teaching Effective Thinking Introduction

The World Economic Forum identifies four capabilities 21st century students require:

  • Critical thinking / problem solving
  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

These skills are sought after in the Arts, the Sciences, Business, Education, everywhere, really. Read more

CPD Course 3: Using Creative Problem Solving FutureLearn

This is a FutureLearn course created in conjunction with the National Yang Ming Chaio Tung University. It’s another very short, asynchronous course. It is more practical than ‘Unlocking the Creative Brain’, giving a lot of practical suggestions for utilizing the neurological processes involved in creativity.

CPD Course 2: Unlocking the Creative Brain FutureLearn

This is the first FutureLearn course I’m taking, it’s been created by Central Queensland University. I want to understand how to encourage creative thinking in classes, particularly when with EAP students, children and teenagers as teaching creative thinking is becoming more of a feature in mainstream education.  Read more


RefuAid is a really positive non-profit organisation which helps asylum seekers in the UK to access education and training to further or adapt their skills to the UK context.