Whether you are trying to expand your vocabulary and build your comprehension of higher levels of reading material or you are trying to help your children or students to do so, the same approach may be taken:
- Learn all you can about roots and affixes (prefixes and suffixes)
- Read a lot so you encounter the words you want to learn over and over
The real question isn’t whether those two methods work. The real question is whether one should come before the other. And for that, there isn’t one good answer.
It’s sort of like using a dictionary to learn how to spell a word. If you can’t spell the word, how can you find it in the dictionary to learn how to spell it? (Or so my kids always ask me!)
The same is true of vocabulary building. Reading levels that are above your comprehension level cannot help you if you have no clues to the unknown words.
And studying roots and affixes will not be much help to you if you have not encountered those roots and affixes often enough for that learning to carry over into your reading.
So what should a parent or teacher do to help a child increase his vocabulary? Glad you asked! And I will share my humble opinion tomorrow---the word count police are looking over my shoulder today! J