Try a Kinesthetic Approach to Vocabulary: Greek and Latin Roots

May 6, 2013 — 3 Comments
The Twitter English Chat (#engchat) last night (5/6/13) was on vocabulary, and I was too late to join the conversation. There was, however, one tweet went by that I would like to answer. Shawn White (@swpax) posted:

Does anyone have fun, effective ways to teach/learn Latin & Greek roots?

Yes. Try a kinesthetic approach.

This past January, I posted two sets of Greek Root vocabulary words on Quizlet. This free software allows anyone to “study anything” or “find or create what you need to learn.” I found two sets of Greek roots that were already posted. Quizlet allows teachers to share materials, so I copied the words and posted them to an account that students could access.

Set I:

Set II:

Quizlet also posts the lists to Twitter so students can access the lists. There are a variety of ways that students and teachers can use Quizlet. The flashcard mode has an audio mode which is really helpful for students to hear the correct pronunciation.

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 8.32.41 PM

After the 9th graders had the lists, we practiced the words and their meanings kinesthetically. The students used their fingers to spell out Greek roots: ant (against), tech (skill), exo (outside).







EXO- Outside

EXO- Outside

They twisted their bodies into letters and spread out against the wall spelling out xen (foreign), phob (fear).

This was fun. (Sorry you cannot see their smiles)

This was also effective. The class average was  96% on Set I and 87% on Set II.

Greek roots are difficult to memorize, but they are essential to decoding other vocabulary words. Between 5-25% of English words are derived from the Greek. The Greek roots are particularly important in understanding today’s vocabulary in science and medicine.

How fitting, then, that kinesthetic is a synonym for biomechanics. And guess what the etymology of biomechanics is? Greek, of course!  Bios (living organism) + mechane, (machine).

This connection between my activity and the root might just be Greek fate…. but that’s another lesson!





3 responses to Try a Kinesthetic Approach to Vocabulary: Greek and Latin Roots


    This is fun! And that’s impressive how high those quiz scores jumped! Well don!

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  1. List of Greek words with English derivatives is … | What is this ? - June 6, 2013

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  2. Reviewing 2013: Learning in Posts from this Blog « Used Books in Class - December 28, 2013

    […] May 2013 Kinesthetic Greek and Latin Roots […]

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