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Does Teaching Latin in Early Grades Help Students with Vocabulary, Overall Reading?

Does Teaching Latin in Early Grades Help Teach Vocabulary, Overall Reading?

According to several educators, teaching K-6 students the Latin and Greek prefix, suffixes and bases significantly helps young students build their vocabulary and master reading.

A recent Education Week article looks at why learning the root words of the English language can be so beneficial for even the youngest of learners as opposed to just older students.

Education Week’s Liana Heitin spoke with elementary school teachers from several schools that have found success teaching their students the root words behind the English language- though they don’t always focus on introducing a new language; the benefits, according to experts, are there nonetheless.

"According to [author and professor Timothy] Rasinski, a literacy education professor at Kent State, teaching young students about morphology (the study of word forms) and word patterns improves their ability to gain meaning from unfamiliar words, which helps with reading overall,” Heitin said.

“'This is one of the most promising ways for developing word knowledge...Anybody who’s ever taken Latin in high school sees how profoundly it’s affected English and can help build vocabulary,’” Rasinski said, according to the article.

Learning root words, while suggested by the Common Core for third graders, could be beneficial to students who are in the early reading stages. 

First grade teacher Diane MacBridge told Heitin that "her students get excited when they see the roots they’ve learned in a book they’re reading on their own. And the roots have helped in other subjects—for instance, students picked up on what regrouping meant in math quickly because they’d learned the prefix re”

Learning root words at a young age, many say, can be great way to teach students awareness of words as well as a confidence that comes with familiarity.

Read the full story.

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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