Vocabulary Roots

This program tests the student on his/her ability to recognize and "decipher" words consisting of readily identifiable prefixes, suffixes, and roots. The program contains roots from Latin, French, Greek and earlier forms of English; it tests students to work through words that have roots in common. It displays the morphological structure of some words. Students can be tested on roots by meaning, form, or semantic category. There are abundant dictionary-type definitions also available.

Opening Screen

As with most of the programs, this one begins with an opening screen that informs the student of the content of the program, while also providing recordings of greetings from some thirty-five different languages. The student can choose the Next button to cycle through the recordings until s/he hears his/her language played. The student clicks on the icon of a book to actually begin the program.

Main Screen

The main screen appears next. The menu choices are Exercise, Show, Help and Exit program. The choice for Show is temporarily greyed out at this point.

The student would click on Exercise to open further menu choices: Word, Root and Meaning Family.

Word

After the student clicks on the menu choice Exercise..Word, a randomly chosen root is sought by the computer. Contained with that root are various words; the computer picks one at random and displays a short phrase or sentence designed to elicit that word.

In the nearby image, the computer has provided the student with the information that the root is "neg"; the exercise phrase is "He was __ in his duties." A blue box with the caption "You Type" appears, and the student is asked to type in a word based on the root "neg" that seems to fit the context. The student has typed the correct answer "negligent;" when s/he clicks on OK the computer will provide appropriate feedback.

After the student has clicked on OK and read the feedback provided, s/he is advised that s/he can click on Exercise again for another exercise, or can click on one of the icons that now appear below this information box. The icons are a down arrow, a bridge, and an open book, signifying a display of the parts or pieces of the word, the group of related words, and the dictionary, respectively.

Parts of Word

The nearby image shows the screen after the student has clicked on the down arrow to see the parts of the word. A new screen appears, captioned "Split Parts of Word;" the student is instructed to click on the down arrow and gets to see the root of the word, "neg", appear to float down from the top blue box, and the suffix "-ent" appear to float from the red suffix box to the right of the root and down.

This is to inform the student that the root "neg(li)" combines with the adjective suffix "-ent" to form the word "negligent." The student clicks on Go on to return to the main screen.

Related Words

The student can click on the icon of the bridge to see words that are connected in meaning to "negligent" because they are formed from the same root, "neg."

The nearby image shows the screen that results. The information is that the root "neg" comes from Latin, where it means "not," that the related words (they open from the yellow list) are "negative" and "negligent." Clicking on one of these words immediately produces a quick definition of that word in the box.

The student clicks on Go on to return to the main screen again.

Definition

If the student clicks on the icon of the open book, s/he sees a definition of the word "negligent."

A small screen appears, and the student is asked to click on the icon of the reference book to read the definition. The nearby image shows this screen, with the definition of the word "negligent" visible; the student scrolls down to read more.

The student clicks on Go on to return to the main screen again.

Root; You Choose

From the main screen, the student can click on Exercise..Root, and then You choose to actually select a root to work with.

The nearby image shows what happens after Exercise..Root, and then You choose are selected. A red list box appears; the student can then scroll down and choose a root. In this case, the student is about to select the root "cede." When s/he does, the computer then randomly chooses among the words it knows that have the root "cede" in them, and provides the exercise phrase or sentence designed to elicit that word.

When the student completes the exercise, the options described above then become available, featuring an analysis of the word ("precede", for example, is divisible into "pre-" and "cede"), a chance to see related words, and a chance to read a dictionary definition of the word.

When these activities are finished, the student can return to the main screen again.

Meaning Family

From the main screen, the student can click on Exercise..Meaning Family.. and then You Choose. This time s/he will see a green list that contains English words that convey the sense of a particular root.

In the nearby image, the green list box appears and the student is about to select "break fract" as his choice. What happens here is that the computer will go through the words it "knows" have the root "fract" in them, and provide a phrase or short sentence designed to elicit that word. When the studnet finishes that exercise, the usual choices of viewing the word formation, the related words, and the dictionary definition are available again.

From the main screen, the student can continue with any of these activities.

Prof. G. Dalgish, ESL Supervisor, English Department, Baruch College e-mail: gerard_dalgish@baruch.cuny.edu