When it comes to the discussion on how to read better, in education today, there seems to be an apparent loss among the few major flawed techniques that have become popular on how to read better. The world today finds meaning to be — shall we say — meaningless. This stems from the see and say method of how to read better, begun around the 1950s or before, that played into the hands of relativists and tolerance-touting people who have, quite honestly, turned our society and its morals upside down. Those who sell phonics help children to learn to sound out most words just fine, however, this method leads the children to no greater understanding of a word’s meaning which dubs this method meaningless. Let’s face it … neither of these techniques of teaching reading leads the reader to comprehend the meaning of words. I propose that both sight and sound can be taught with the real functional benefit of comprehension added to the mix. This article will show you how.
An ingenious device that has been introduced into our language is that of “root” meaning. This is an important key to understanding how to read better. “Root” meaning brings to both phonics and sight-reading all the elements of reading and comprehension.
A “root” is essentially a division of a word that has its own meaning and often is joined to another root to form a functioning word. These parts are often seen as prefix and suffix. This part of a word tells the meaning in its Latin or Greek form. Most dictionaries derive word meanings from this root. Teaching your child root words will greatly enhance their self-comprehension of words. Your child will no longer ask you, “What does this word mean?” He will no longer struggle with how to pronounce words. A word will not stump him when you are not around. He will read better, and be a challenge to most students and adults in spelling.
There is a whole host of benefits in teaching your children to read better by learning root words, but unless you put root meaning into practice, and do it the correct way, it will not work for them. Real useful for putting roots to work would be to have or develop a list or chart of root words and their meanings. There are many ways to accomplish this, however, one of the simplest ways is to obtain a good root word dictionary. There are tools such as some common dictionaries as well as the Strong’s Concordance, for Greek roots, that are also good for this purpose.
Since root meaning is neither a method of bringing words to their meaning nor a means of concentration on pronouncing words alone, the goal is to learn roots so well that no word will be either a mystery or a challenge for your children. Unlike many word forms in the English language, root pronunciation is delineated very precisely within root word dictionaries. There is therefore no difference or question about the correct pronunciation of each root.
Looking in a root word dictionary at the word “precept,” we learned that it includes the root “capere,” the Latin verb meaning “to take.” When we added the prefix “pre,” which is the Latin word “prae” meaning “before” or “in front of,” we determined that a “precept” is a rule or principle that one takes in before doing something. Once we began to remember that “cept” in a word, from capere, means “to take,” then it became simple to know the meaning of other words such as the word “concept.” Here the word “con” means “with.” So the word “concept” was quickly recognized to mean “to take along with.”
Another example using Greek roots, was the word “philosophy.” The root word “philos” means “to love” or “love of.” The root “sophos,” derived from the name of the Greek philosopher Socrates, means “wisdom or knowledge.” Together these words form the meaning “the love of knowledge.”
Adding root word study to the beauty of phonics (and sometimes “see say”), instead of having to go to the dictionary to figure out the meaning to words they read, your children will be able to determine what words mean almost instantly. Their level of comprehension will become, to say the least, remarkable. Why not give your children a valuable gift by helping them cultivate the real root of how to read better.