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Vocabulary Expansion: The "Ize" Have It

by Marlene Caroselli
 | Apr 02, 2014

Ours is a wondrously flexible language. Not only does it have more than a million words, with new ones added/created each day, but we don’t frown on such additions or creations. Consider by comparison Papiamento, the native tongue of Aruba. It has fewer than a thousand words. Or consider those countries with ministries that determine if certain “outside” words can be considered an official part of a given country’s language.

p: jovike via photopin

Perhaps American English speakers are so tolerant of outside words because our own government is creating new ones all the time. When federal employees, for example, want to put papers in a folder, they “folderize” them. And when they wish to assemble numbers in a column, they “columnize” them.

Vocabulary Expansion

After leaving the high school (English) classroom, I spent the next quarter-century teaching working adults. I discovered that when students heard certain words, they seemed confused. Though, in actuality, they knew these words, or at least the roots on which the cognates were based.

Moving among the various parts of speech should have been an easy transition. And yet, they stumbled. To illustrate, if I referred to “autumnal” treasures, many people didn’t make the easy leap from the noun “autumn” to its adjectival cognate. The same is true for “societal” and “society” or “tornadic” and “tornado.”

Teachers can help students expand their vocabulary and gain confidence in reading, listening, writing, and speaking by increasing their familiarity with the various forms of words.

Neologism or Dictionary-validated?

The following activity is designed with teams in mind. A soupçon of competition makes it all more fun, and as Alfred Mercier asserted, “What we learn with pleasure, we never forget.”

As students begin to discover linguistic pleasures and to love their self-created linguistic treasures, they will come to agree, if only in adulthood-reflection, that Einstein was right to regard love as the best teacher.

PREPARATION

Step 1: Begin collecting words that end in “ize.” Here are a few to get you started. Once you have 25, type the list in a column, using the noun form or adjective form as shown in the starter-list below.

Word
caramel 
formal
sympathy
winter
summer
spring
autumn
priority
Bieber

Step 2: In the second column, the parts of speech for the 25 words will be listed by the teams.

Word Part of Speech
caramel   
formal  
sympathy  
winter  
summer  
spring  
autumn  
priority  
Bieber  

The third and fourth columns will be used by teams to write the verb ending in “ize.” Next, they will decide if the “ize” word really exists or is newly created. They will write a “D” or an “N” in the last column. The finished worksheet will look like this:

Word Part of Speech   Verb ending in "ize"     D or N
caramel           
formal          
sympathy          
winter          
summer          
spring          
autumn          
priority          
Bieber          

ACTIVITY DIRECTIONS

Step 1: Allow five minutes (longer, for younger students) for teams to discuss the parts of speech for each word and to write the answer (“noun” or “adjective”) on the line. Once the teams have finished determining the parts of speech, provide the answers. The team(s) that has the highest number of correct identifications for the parts of speech is given a certificate commending them and a five-point bonus.

Step 2: Teams must next determine what the verb form is and if that verb-form is a legitimate word that can be found in the dictionary or if it is a neologism, a new word created in your class, at this time.

Word Part of Speech   Verb ending in "ize"     D or N
caramel           
formal          
sympathy          
winter          
summer          
spring          
autumn          
priority          
Bieber          

Allow ten minutes for team discussion and for the students to write the “ize” verb forms and the letter “D” to designate that this is a real word—one that can be found in the dictionary—or the letter “N,” meaning that it is a neologism or recent coinage. Then give the answers and five points to the team with the highest number of correct “D” or “N” answers.

If two or more teams have earned the same number of points, you can continue the exercise with these tie-breaking exercises:

  1. Ask students to turn to a book that they are using in the classroom. Ask them to find and list as many “ize” words as they can find in the pages of that book within a five-minute period. This activity will increase their speed-reading and skimming abilities. It will also allow teams to earn an extra seven points if they have the longest list.

  2. Tell the class that, working in the same teams, they can make a list of neologisms from the worlds of sports, celebrities, animals, movies, or superheroes.

    They should be prepared to define their newly created words, all of which should end in “ize.” Award eight points to the team that has the longest list of neologisms created in a five-minute period. (An example might be “to LeBronize,” meaning “to skip a step in the normal progression.” LeBron James, also known as King James, went directly from high school to the NBA.)

  3. Spend a few minutes discussing the Greek origin of neologisms—“neo” meaning “new” and “logos” meaning “word” or “the study of.” Then give an example of another word with Greek origins—“biology,” the study of life; or “etymology,” the study of the origin of words themselves. Award nine points to the team that can come up with the longest list of such words. (Be prepared to offer definitions such as “psychology,” the study of the mind.)

If teams are still hopelessly tied, give the grand prize to the team that has the most syllables in their Correlative Activity #3.

Marlene Caroselli, Ed.D. writes extensively about education topics. Among her books on the subject are 500 CREATIVE CLASSROOM CONCEPTS and THE CRITICAL THINKING TOOL KIT.

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