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How to Teach Prefixes to Grade 5 Pupils Who Have Little Background of English

Updated on September 2, 2015

Teaching Pupils with Difficulty in Understanding English

For students, what they see in the classroom is what they usually believe. When teachers present to them a word with its corresponding meaning, they would usually accept it as it is and they’re done. This is the reason why teachers need to provide opportunities for students to be engaged and think critically. In English, one of the ways of hooking up the learners and get them to think critically is through teaching affixes.

An affix is a letter, syllable or word added either before or after a root word. A root word is the base form of a word. It has no affix. There are two types of affix—prefix and suffix. A prefix is added before a root word to form a new meaning while a suffix is added after the root word.

My classes are composed generally of students, who, even if they are already in the fifth grade, still have difficulty in reading and comprehending English words and texts. To facilitate learning to them, I have to make some adjustments. Here is my semi- detailed learning plan intended for them.

A. Root Words in a Matching Type Activity

Do not readily present to them the lesson on affixes. The motivation part of the lesson should allow them to enjoy. Hence, without the pupils knowing the details of the lesson, present to them the root words in English with pictures and the translation or meaning of each word in Filipino or in their mother tongue. Give them processing time before calling some of them to answer.

B. Present the Prefixes

Show to them the following set of syllables/words (prefix) and pictures and let them match them with the Filipino words. These are the focused prefixes in case.

C. Showing the Possibilities

Show to them the possibilities of forming words with new meanings through combining the two set of words/syllables. The crucial part here is on asking to them questions which would lead to them formulating their own understanding.

New Word
superior heat
too much supply
less healthy
of superior nature
former governor
former mayor
too much weight or very heavy

Ask them if they have any idea on how to call the words/letters added to the words and how to call the words being added with those words/letters.

C. Present the topic

Affixes are letters or syllables at the beginning or at the end of a root word.

A root word is a word without affix. It is the basic form of the word.

Prefixes are letters or syllables placed before a root word.

Suffixes are letters or syllable placed after a root word.

Go back to the chart and let them tell whether columns A and B is prefix or root word.

Since the topic is somewhat too technical to them, tell them that the focus for the day’s discussion is on prefix.

D. Board work

Let them fill in the blanks by adding the correct prefix (under-, over-, ex- and super-) or the meaning.

Root Word
New Word Formed
less than the average age
too much time
former secretary
of superior fineness

E. Practice

One of the things that teacher should have in mind is not to make the test very easy that the learners will get bored and consequently, just take for granted nor make the test so difficult that they get frustrated. Here is a practice test that they could find easy to answer.

1. expose. Kathleen tells too much information about her best friend, Karla. A lot of people nowadays are like Kathleen; they ____________ things even if not necessary.

a. ex-expose b. underexpose c. overexpose d. superexpose

2. sleep. I got so exhausted and needed too much sleep. As a result, I _______.

a. superslept b. ex-slept c. underslept d. overslept

3. husband. Ten years after their separation, Susana met her _________ again yesterday.

a. overhusband b. underhusband c. ex-husband d. superhusband

4. man. He is a man of superior strength. I see him as a ________.

a. ex-man b. underman c. superman d. overman

5. power. China is a country with superior power. Therefore, it is a ______.

a. overpower b. underpower c. ex-power d. superpower

6. load. The ship carries too much load. Every time it travels, it is _____.

a. overloaded b. superloaded c. underloaded d. ex-loaded

7. due. A lot of grade five pupils don’t submit their project on time. Most of the time, their projects are already ______ when submitted.

a. superdue b. underdue c. ex-due d. overdue

8. seminarian. Mark is a former seminarian. As an ________ you can expect him to be very kind and gentle.

a. ex-seminarian b. superseminarian c. underseminarian d. overseminarian

9. achiever. Lina seem to achieve less than she can. Her classmates see her as an _____.

a. underachiever b. ex-achiever c. overachiever d. superachiever

10. priest. Even if Fr. Glen is no longer a priest, I still call him as Father. He says he is happy with his life now as an_______.

a. underpriest b. superpriest c. ex-priest d. overpriest

My assessment was aligned with this practice exercise. My pupils got better grades when it was done this way. It was not so easy nor too difficult. It allowed them to analyze and look for context clues in order to really get the right answer.

Make things clear and understandable

Teaching minds is a very crucial task; more so when it comes to teaching English to learners who don't have a solid foundation of the language. But, as a teacher, it is our job to get things taught in such as way that it is clear and understandable to learners. Moreover, we should make sure that our learners develop critical thinking skills in the analysis of the structure of words in order to know its meaning and one way of doing it is through understanding affixes.

This strategy can also apply when it comes to teaching suffixes. I hope you find this learning plan helpful.


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