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The ability to comprehend and use a rich and diverse vocabulary is paramount for students to access all subjects in the curriculum successfully. A crucial aspect of developing a rich disciplinary vocabulary lies in understanding the morphology and etymology behind many of these academic words. The study of meaningful word parts such as prefixes, suffixes, Latin roots, and Greek combining forms, enables students to build a strong foundation for deciphering unfamiliar words, fostering a deeper understanding of language across various disciplines.


What is Morphology?

At its core, morphology is the investigation of the structure and meaning of words, focusing on their individual components. These components include prefixes, which are added at the beginning of a word; suffixes, added at the end; Latin roots, providing the core meaning of a word; and Greek combining forms, which offer additional depth to vocabulary. An understanding these word parts acts as a toolkit for decoding the academic language that permeates all aspects of the curriculum.

Why Teach Morphology?

Teaching morphology is not just an exercise in linguistic exploration; it is a powerful strategy to enhance vocabulary acquisition. By breaking down words into their morphological components, students gain a set of building blocks that they can apply to unfamiliar terms they encounter. This can have a far-reaching impact on a student’s access to the curriculum, as morphological structures are not confined to a single subject but are pervasive across various disciplines.

How Can I Implement Morphology in the Classroom?

  1. Make Visual Links – Morphological word parts can be abstract, making it challenging for students to remember them. One effective strategy is to establish visual links by associating these parts with images. Our Core5 and PowerUp program begin morphology activities with simple picture-matching exercises, enabling students to create lasting visual connections that support the retention of this word knowledge.


  1. Break Down Unfamiliar Words – Encourage students to break down words they come across to increase morphological awareness. Analysing the meaning of word families as well as comparing words with similar components, all foster a deeper understanding of language structure. Both Core5 and PowerUp provide students with opportunities to identify, categorise, and compare word parts, reinforcing their knowledge.


  1. Use New Word Parts in Multiple Contexts – Implement a school-wide and cross-curricular approach to reinforce the use of new word parts. Encourage students to recognise these morphological elements they discover in various subjects to promote a holistic understanding of language. Core5 allows pupils to apply their knowledge by using morphological word parts in different sentences, while PowerUp challenges students to identify newly acquired word parts in passages of academic text.


Incorporating morphology into vocabulary instruction offers a dynamic approach to enhancing vocabulary skills across the curriculum. By building pupils’ knowledge of morphological structures, and with the help of programs like Core5 and PowerUp, educators can accelerate vocabulary acquisition and empower students to unlock academic language. Morphology is not just a tool for language enthusiasts; it is a key to unlocking a world of knowledge and understanding across a range of different subjects.


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