Thursday, July 21, 2011

ESL Teaching Tip: Common Prefixes

A prefix is a letter or group of letters that you add to the beginning of a word. It gives a different meaning to the word. If you see a word that you don’t know, but you do know the prefix and the base word, you can guess the meaning.

Just 20 prefixes account for 97 percent of all words with prefixes, and nine of those 20 account for 75
percent. Students may come across other prefixes while reading, but knowing at least these most common prefixes will be helpful.

Following are the 20 most common prefixes.

Rank                Prefix                          % of All Prefixed Words
1                      un- (opposite)                         26
2                      re- (again)                              14
3                      in-, im-, il-, ir- (not)               11
4                      dis- (not)                                 7
5                      en-, em- (put into)                   4
6                      non- (not)                                4
7                      in-, im- (in)                              3
8                      over- (excessive)                      3
9                      mis- (bad or incorrect)             3
10                    sub- (below)                             3
11                    pre- (before)                            3
12                    inter- (between)                       3
13                    fore- (earlier)                          3
14                    de- (reverse)                            2
15                    trans- (across)                          2
16                    super- (above)                          1
17                    semi- (half)                              1
18                    anti- (opposite)                        1
19                    mid- (middle)                           1
20                    under- (too little)                     1
All Others                                                        4

ESL Teaching Tip: Common Suffixes

The previous blog post discussed spelling with the suffixes -ing, -ed, -er, and -est. There are other common suffixes that would be helpful for students to learn. Learning common suffixes helps students determine the meanings of unknown words. Students can use their knowledge of word parts with Latin and Greek roots, specifically prefixes and suffixes, to pull an unknown word apart and determine its meaning. Following is a list of commonly used suffixes.

Suffix   Example Words
-able    capable, notable, desirable
-al        central, coastal, general, hospital
-ant      pleasant, important, distant, constant
-ance   continuance, allowance, abundance, balance
-ee       employee, trustee
-en       harden, sweeten, golden, driven
-ence   excellence, evidence, difference, reference
-ent      innocent, confident, ardent, eloquent
-ful       cheerful, careful, wonderful, shameful
-hood   manhood, statehood, womanhood
-ible     possible
-ice      justice, service, notice, practice
-id        timid, solid, valid, frigid
-ish      finish, vanish, punish, abolish, perish
-ine      engine, famine, genuine
-it         limit, deposit
-ite       definite, infinite, opposite
-ive      relative, possessive, active, effective
-ize      realize, fertilize, specialize, apologize
-less     shameless, careless, restless, blameless
-ment   assignment, department, apartment, agreement
-ness    happiness, sickness, brightness, darkness
-ward   awkward, downward, upward
-cian    Grecian, politician, musician
-ciate   appreciate, emaciate
-cient   proficient, efficient, sufficient
-cial     racial, social, facial, crucial
-tial      partial, initial, essential
-sial     controversial
-cious   gracious, delicious, vicious
-tious   facetious, pretentious, ostentatious
-xious   anxious, obnoxious, noxious

For additional ESL teaching tips:
Click here to read about the pronunciation of -ed.
Click here to read about pronouncing plurals.
Click here to read about voiced and voiceless sounds.
Click here to read about rising and falling intonation in questions.
Click here to read about syllable stress and the schwa.
Click here to read about adding the suffixes -ing, -ed, -er, and -est.
Click here to read about teaching common prefixes. 
Click here to read about decoding multi-syllabic words. 
Click here to read about spelling words that end in S, F, and Z.
Click here to read about other sounds for c and g.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

ESL Spelling Tip: Adding Suffixes

Sometimes, an ending can be added to the end of a word to make a new word. We call this ending a suffix. A suffix contains one or more letters. Sometimes, adding a suffix will change the word’s part of speech. 

Following are some skills that could be taught to non-native English speaking students to help them properly spell words with suffixes.

1)  In a short vowel word ending in a single consonant, that same consonant must be doubled before adding the suffixes -ing, -ed, -er, or -est.

           r   u  n         r u n n e r                        h  o  p           h o p p i n g

Note: If a word ends in an x, simply add the suffix since x has two sounds: /ks/.

           w a x         w a x i n g                         f i x               f i x e d

2)  If a short vowel word already has two consonants at the end of the word, simply add the suffix.

          j  u  m  p       j u m p i n g                      h  u  n  t        h u n t e d

Friday, July 1, 2011

ESL Pronunciation Tip: Syllable Stress and the Schwa

The following is an activity that can be used to teach students about syllable stress and the schwa. (More comprehensive information on word stress predictability can be accessed from a previous blog post here.)

• Stress is the volume and pitch a speaker gives to a sound, syllable, or word while speaking.
• Every multi-syllabic word (a word with more than one syllable) has one syllable that is emphasized more than the others.
• All English vowels in unstressed syllables can take the schwa sound. The schwa has the sound of short u (example: pencil) or short i (example: leverage). We show that a vowel has a schwa sound with an upside down e.
• Learning syllable stress will help you improve your pronunciation.

• Following is a list of general rules for syllable stress. Even though there are many exceptions in English, it is helpful to use these general rules as guidelines when you come across a word you don’t know. Try to predict what the syllable stress will be for the new words you learn. If you need to, you can use a dictionary to check the syllable stress.
• There are no rules to help you decide if a vowel says the schwa sound. One helpful thing to remember is that the schwa sound is usually in an unstressed syllable (examples: open; human; pencil). Also, usually the vowel a at the beginning or end of a word says the schwa sound (examples: sofa; agenda; America; away).