Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

The Root of It is...

Examining Greek and Latin Word Parts

Lisa Loughlin, Keiana Cross | Published: February 23rd, 2023 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course American Literature, British Literature, Composition, Creative Writing, World Language, World Literature


In this lesson, students will dive deeper into what Greek and Latin roots mean and how and why they are embedded into our everyday vocabulary. Using hands-on activities, students will examine specific root meanings and where they come from. Next, they will watch an interview with a former professor of linguistics who explains why learning Greek and Latin word parts is valuable and what careers in linguistics exist. Students will end the lesson by summarizing their learning.

Essential Question(s)

Why is learning Greek and Latin roots and affixes valuable?



Students watch a video explaining Greek and Latin word parts and list everything they learned from it.


Students determine the meanings of different word parts by examining each in use.


Students use the Vocabulary Acrostics strategy to clarify the meaning of their assigned word part.


Students complete a card sort and watch an interview with a former linguistics professor.


Students complete a 3-2-1 activity to summarize their learning.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • It's ROOT-imentary! handout (attached; one per student)

  • It's ROOT-imentary! Teacher Guide (attached)

  • Put Down Roots! card matching handout (attached; one per group)

  • Put Down Roots! card matching Teacher Guide (attached)

  • The Root of the Matter handout (attached; optional; one per student)

  • Internet and projector access

  • Printer access

  • Copy paper

  • Pens or pencils

  • Colored pencils, crayons, or markers


15 Minute(s)

Use the attached Lesson Slides to guide the lesson. Begin by displaying slides 2-3 to introduce the essential question and the lesson objectives.

Transition to slide 4. Students watch a short video about Latin and Greek roots and affixes. As students watch the video, they use the Bell Ringer strategy to create a list of 10 things they learned.

After students watch the video, invite 3-5 students to share some of the things they learned from the video that they previously did not know. Student answers will vary. After students finish sharing their lists, ask them whether they have additional questions about the content. This is the time for students to ask clarifying questions and for the teacher to check for understanding.


25 Minute(s)

Distribute a copy of the attached It’s ROOT-imentary handout to each student.

Display slide 5 and review the directions.

Transition to slide 6 and review the example. Model the process students will use by examining the word part, "Cred."

Invite students to look at the example words listed and their definitions. Ask students to identify what all these words have in common; allow students 3-5 minutes to think about an answer. Allow students to discuss the words with each other. Ask a few students to share their thoughts with the whole class. After students have offered some verbal responses, explain that the meaning of the word "Cred" is to believe or trust.

After modeling the process, check for student understanding of the task. If students confirm their understanding, transition to slide 7. Review the directions again and give students 15 minutes to work through the handout. Adjust this time as needed.


15 Minute(s)

Transition to slide 8 and assign each student a word part from the It’s ROOT-imentary! handout. Review the directions for the Vocabulary Acrostics strategy.

Display slide 9 to review the example for "PATH." Review the examples and its meaning and how they connect to the acrostic example. Transition to slide 10 to create a vocabulary acrostic as a class for "CRED." Ask some guiding questions and allow students the opportunity to contribute to the class example. Answers to this will vary; below is one example.

Can be trusted



Doesn’t lie

Transition to slide 11 to revisit the initial directions. Distribute a sheet of copy paper to each student (or print and distribute the optional The Root of the Matter handout) and have markers, colored pencils, and crayons available to use. Allow students 15 minutes to create an acrostic poem with their assigned word part. Adjust this time as needed.


20 Minute(s)

Display slide 12. Ask the class if they know how to count from one to three in Spanish, French, or German. Do the numbers in these foreign languages sound similar?

Discuss the language family tree on slide 12 by asking students:

  • Where did modern English come from?

  • How do Greek and Latin roots influence how we speak and write today?

Display slide 13. Call on a few students to read through the various spellings and pronunciations for “Egg” and “Shoes.” Alternatively, select the links in the slides to be taken to Google Translate. Within Google Translate, select the speaker icon to hear the pronunciation of the word. Ask students if they notice similarities between the same word in various languages.

Transition to slide 14. Divide the class into groups of 2-3 students. Distribute one set of the Put Down Roots cards to each small group and give students 10 minutes to organize the cards as best as they can using the Card Matching strategy.

After students complete the card sort, transition to slide 15 to review the answers. Refer to the graphic previously shown on slide 12 to explain the shifts in the spelling and pronunciation from the Romance languages to the Germanic languages.

Transition to slide 16 and explain to students they will watch an interview with a former professor of linguistics: “K20 ICAP - Linguistics.” Take a moment to briefly discuss what linguists do.


7 Minute(s)

Transition to slide 17 and invite students to summarize their learning using the 3-2-1 strategy. Ask students to write down the following on the back of their It’s ROOT-imentary! handout or piece of scrap paper.

3 - List three things you learned from the video.

2 - List two ways you could use what you have learned from this interview/lesson in school or in your personal life.

1 - List one question you still have regarding the interview, careers in linguistics, or Greek and Latin roots.