We all know how a powerful vocabulary may improve our English proficiency. It makes us look smarter (seriously! 😉 ), helps us better explaining ourselves and understanding others. A common way to learn vocabulary for ESL students is to memorize words. However, I would say the best way is to invest some time in learning root words, prefixes and suffixes. These will help you guess the meaning of new words and memorize them easier (make sure you still look it up in a dictionary to get the precise meaning and any other implication it might have). They can even help you guess what a word you want might look like.
An excerpt from a post in VirtualSalt at http://www.virtualsalt.com/roots.htm will clarify my point:
“Many words are made up of a root (or base word) and a prefix. Some words also have a suffix. For example, the root word port means to carry or to bear. Attach the prefix ex, meaning out or out of, and you have the word export, to carry out. Attach the prefix im, meaning in or into and you have import, to carry in. Attach the prefix trans, meaning across, and you have transport, meaning to carry across. Now let’s attach the suffix able, meaning able to be, and you have importable, exportable, and transportable.”
This is a powerful tool which is more or less neglected from our learning process.
A quick search in google will show a number of interesting and fun websites which provides not only the list of prefaces and suffices, but also games to help us memorize those words. Here are some of them that I find most interesting:
Different lists of prefixes, suffixes and root words (all with examples) are
– Commonly used, with explanation on how words work: http://www.virtualsalt.com/roots.htm, http://www.readingrockets.org/article/40406/, http://www.englishleap.com/vocabulary/root-words
– Comprehensive list: http://www.learnthat.org/pages/view/roots.html, with sample words and their definitions
– Commonly used for GRE: https://www.msu.edu/~defores1/gre/roots/gre_rts_afx2.htm?….
– Simple teaching: http://www.betterendings.org/homeschool/words/root%20words.htm
Fun and interactive root words games can be found at http://www.vocabulary.co.il/root-words/ and http://www.funbrain.com/roots/index.html.
Have fun learning English 🙂