With reading skills on the decline, more schools are pushing for roots-based vocabulary instruction, and for good reason.

Think about the last thing you read, whether that’s a book, a social post, or even an email (perhaps from us?). At least one word you saw probably contained a Latin or Greek root. Makes sense, since more than 60% of all words in the English language come from these roots.

When students know how to identify and define a variety of Latin and Greek roots, they’re more likely to be confident, proficient readers. Let’s check out how understanding these fundamental building blocks of language can help students with pronunciation, expand vocabulary effortlessly, and give them the confidence to tackle complex texts.

Reinforce Phonics Rules

Phonemic awareness, which is all about recognizing and manipulating the different sounds in words, is important for learning to read. And guess what? When students know their word roots, their phonemic awareness gets even stronger, making it easier for them to grasp how letters and sounds fit together.

Take the Greek root phon. It usually sounds like /f/, like in words such as telephone and microphone. When students come across an unfamiliar word with phon in it, such as cacophony, they can use what they know to guess how it's pronounced. This whole process of linking word roots to phonics rules not only helps students read words correctly but also gives them greater insight into how language works.

Gain Greater Reading Fluency

By learning just a single word root, students can exponentially expand their vocabularies without the need for rote memorization. For instance, knowing that the Latin root scrib means "to write" can help students infer the meanings of words like describe, manuscript, and inscription, even if they’ve never seen the words before.

The more roots students know, the better they’ll be able to decode words on the spot. When given a new reading passage, root-savvy students spend less time struggling with unfamiliar vocabulary and more time getting the most out of the text.

Prepare for Advanced Studies

As students continue their studies, they'll come across more challenging texts, especially in subjects like science, history, and math. These fields are packed with domain-specific vocabulary words, many of which contain Latin and Greek roots. A broad knowledge base of word roots will give students the tools to approach these texts with confidence.

Mastering word roots goes beyond academic success—it also sets students up for a lifetime of learning. Whether they're learning new terms as part of their careers or diving into a hobby, they can continue to expand their vocabulary knowledge on their own, thanks to their decoding skills.

An Organized Study of Word Roots

Now that we know why learning word roots matters, the next question is: what’s the best way to teach them? You could start off by introducing new roots, writing lessons for each one, creating practice exercises, finding reading passages to teach words in context; the list goes on.

Or, you can let Vocabulary from Latin and Greek Roots handle it all.

Like the name suggests, this complete program for grades 7-12 takes an etymology-based approach to vocabulary study. In each book, your students will learn the definitions of commonly used Latin and Greek roots alongside 200 new vocabulary words derived from each.

Exercises in each unit have students practice using vocabulary in context, infer information based on a word’s meaning, and define unfamiliar words using their knowledge of word roots. Plus, clever mnemonic cartoons and interesting word notes throughout make the content fun and memorable.