Word formation is of crucial importance in language learning. It gives a chance to enrich the vocabulary with the help of already-known roots and words. In this article, we will discuss affixation (adding suffixes and prefixes to the root) as a great word formation tool.

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1. It is important for learners to know how to form nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. If the teacher intends to devote the lesson to noun formation suffixes, he/she may prepare a poster activity with a chart of different noun formation suffixes.

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Learners are given a pack of verbs and they need to classify these verbs according to the appropriate noun formation suffIx (e.g. move, friend, revise, appear). This is a very useful activity since the learners work in groups and they come up with the forms rather than being provided with them. See an example of the chart below.

The same activity can be applied while teaching adjective or verb formation suffixes or prefixes.

2. A maze, aimed at recapping suffixes and prefixes, is a great revision activity of word formation. Students try to exit the maze looking for words which follow the same word formation rules. The task might be the following:

  • find the right path choosing adjectives whose opposites start with the prefix in-.
  • find adjectives which form nouns by adding ance/ ity, etc
  • find the words with the correct word formation.

Students are timed and it adds extra competition spirit into the activity.
See an example of the maze activity here.

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3. 3. The teacher prepares two sets of word card: prefixes/suffixes and words that fit the chosen prefixes/suffixes to create new words. Students select one card from the Words pile and try to match it with the appropriate prefix /suffix to make a new word, note the new word down, put the Words card aside, and continue until they have no Words cards left. They can play individually/in pairs, in groups, against the clock or against each other to make as many correct words as possible.

The example provided here is targeted at revising noun suffixes -ment, -tion, and -sion.

Parts of Speech Bingo is an old but a tried-and-tested way of not only teaching but also revising word formation. Teacher selects words he/she intends the students to revise and prepares bingo cards. The game can be played either in this way when learners call out names of parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, adverb), students cross out one word at a time (even if they have several nouns on their bingo card) or read out a sentence with a gap. Students who have the fitting word say it out loud and cross it out.

5. Students stand/sit in a circle, you (or any other student) select a category (word building suffix or prefix), students pass the ball around saying the words without repeating them and you monitor whether they are correct. The first person to say the wrong word/not say anything at all is eliminated (leaves the circle). The game goes on until there are two players left. Change suffixes/prefixes for each new round. It is a super engaging game and helps the learners dig deep to find a word which fits the category.

All these games are nice tools to help learners memorize word formation affixes. In order to reinforce the material, learners may be asked to come up with sentences where they need to use some of the given words, make up stories, ask questions to their partners. In this way, the knowledge of these words seems more purposeful to them and they enjoy this great way of expanding their vocabulary.

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