To read well, students need to learn:
- alphabet decoding: including phonological awareness skills such as letter-sound links and how to blend speech sounds together to make words;
- fluent word reading: including gaining access to the meaning of words directly from the spelling without needing to decode them phonically, including through experience, morphological awareness and motivated reading; and
- text comprehension, including by increasing vocabulary, background knowledge, semantic networks, inference-making skills, higher level language skills, comprehension monitoring skills, sentence processing, and knowledge of text types, such as story grammar (Castles et al., 2018).
A growing body of research suggests we can help struggling readers with “morphological awareness training” (e.g. McLeod & Apel, 2015; Bowers et al., 2010). Morphological awareness is the skill of consciously thinking about and manipulating morphemes (McLeod & Apel, 2015).
- bases (e.g. “speak”); and
- add-on bits (aka affixes), including prefixes (e.g. “un-”) and suffixes (e.g. “-able”).
So, for example, the word “unspeakable” is made up of three morphemes: un-speak-able.
In this resource, we include some of the most common English words ending in the suffix -able, as well as common academic words ending in -able that are used across subjects at school.
It contains 10 activities designed to teach and consolidate this knowledge. Activities include:
- Definition and etymology of the suffix -able, for comprehension and spelling.
- A “procedural learning” writing activity.
- Auditory bombardment: listening to -able words in sentence context.
- Word highlighting activity: spotting the suffix in sentences.
- Rewriting exercise using -able words to replace other phrases.
- Sentence formulation exercise with semantic constraints: making original sentences using -able.
- Divergent naming exercise: creative thinking using words with -able.
- Two verbal reasoning and persuasive writing exercises: generating pros and cons for -able words.
- Story-making or creative writing exercise with -able words.
Fully scripted, the module is is suitable for one-to-one, small group and whole class instruction; and can be downloaded in PDF and Google Slides format.
The activities in these resources are suitable for typically developing students in Year 4 and above. They are also suitable for gifted younger students, and older students with language, learning, reading and/or writing difficulties.
For more evidence-based information about morphological awareness training, read our article “What else helps struggling readers: the evidence for morphological awareness training“.
If you’re looking for resources about prefixes, see our fully-scripted teaching resources for the 9 most common prefixes in English here.