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


Songs for Learning Vocabulary: Topics A to Z

A to Z of Song Topics

As I’ve spent the last month or so listing songs for learning English grammar, it seems to make sense to finish with a list of songs for topics to introduce or revise vocabulary. This list will grow as I remember/discover more, or people get in touch with suggestions. Read more

The Word Box

What is a word box?

It is class specific. You will need a different box for each class. During, or at the end of each class, someone needs to transfer each new item of vocabulary (word, collocation, phrase) onto a slip of paper and put it in the word box. You can either transfer the words yourself or ask a student to take responsibility for it.

Each word or phrase should have number of syllables, stress, phonemic transcription, and word class marked on one side of the paper. On the other you will need to write a definition, an example sentence and, if you’re teaching a monolingual class, a translation.

word box word


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Reading with Children

DSCN0542Everyone knows the benefits of reading to babies and toddlers, right? Health visitors hand out Bookstart packs in the UK almost as soon as your child is born, libraries run all-singing, all-dancing, glue & glitter sessions for families; Dolly Parton posts books monthly to children in the UK, the US, Canada and Australia. And the results from research is overwhelming: a child is never too young for a book. Read more

Language Play – Alliteration and Rhyme

Word PlayPersuasion, poems, puns. We use language to connect, to communicate, to conceal; for literature and laughs. From the time we begin to babble as babies language play is something we all do. Here are some of our favourite no materials, no preparation, rhyming and alliteration games. Read more

EFL Extensive Reading

Oxford BookwormsIn EFL we talk about two types of reading Extensive Reading and Intensive Reading. Intensive reading is what usually happens in the classroom: reading to answer comprehension questions or to teach ‘reading skills’ such as skimming and scanning. Extensive reading is reading for pleasure, often fiction at around or just below a learner’s language level. Ideally extensive reading texts should be 98% known vocabulary.
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Why rhyme?

My daughter, Lyra, is learning a poem for a school poetry competition. She wanders around the house muttering lines and rhymes to herself, making up new ones when she forgets the original (which she often does).

Listening to Lyra’s evident enjoyment of the poem I began to wonder what it is about rhyme that we find so appealing.

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