-By Doc Larrick, first published October 8, 2015 in the Dynamic Literacy News Letter
WordBuild is a program that builds a good vocabulary in an efficient and meaningful way. It does not rely on memorization of lists of words. It gives learners a chance to explore and discuss the deep structure that exists in word families.
Try memorizing this number: 434996893.
Now look at it this way: 434-996-893; or this way: 43-499-68-93.
Breaking the number into pieces makes it a little easier to deal with, doesn’t it?
It’s the same with words, except with words, we can discover ways to divide them up so that the meaning becomes clear, or clearer.
When I was a youngester, my aunt used to play word tricks on me. She would say, for example, “Pronounce B–A–C — K–A–C — H–E“, and I would struggle with sounding out the syllables as she had spelled them: “bahk–kahk–he”, I kept saying. Now if I had just written the syllables down, or had divided the letters up in a different way, I would have recognized BACK — ACHE, but my aunt had her laugh and I had my first lesson in how words work–not simply as strings of letter or syllables, but as pieces whose meanings I could recognize.
The WordBuild user will learn that by looking for recognizable parts in an unfamiliar word, meaningful pieces can often start to emerge. For example, if you happen to run into the word dorsalgia, you might puzzle over it with your friends and someone may make a connection with endorsing (writing your name on the BACK of a check) and, say, neuralgia (nerve distress), so that you discover that dorsalgia is the medical term for BACKACHE!
BONUS: The suffix ify