Every now and again faith in our educational system takes an all too rare boost. Research at Northumbria University discovered that by educating children in the meaning of words from their Greek and Latin origins has massively improved their understanding and achievement.
Appealing to their inquisitive nature the children in the sample were shown how to decode words and broaden their vocabulary. The results have been spectacular. Children that were struggling and had fallen behind their classmates saw the process improve their performance by six years in as many weeks. The key was to break words down onto their prefix, stem and suffix meanings based on their Latin or Greek origin. Pupils were able to decipher unknown words by breaking them down. Examples were the word bio, meaning “life” in Greek that led to an understanding of biography, biology and symbiotic. Dict meaning to “say” in Latin gave an insight to predict, contradict. Chron is Greek for “time”, as in chronic and synchronise.
Katy Parkinson developed the technique. A former home economics teacher she was dismayed at the standard of teaching materials available and spend years refining her Sound Training system which is now used in over 500 schools. Teachers spend around one hour a week on the system and achieve remarkable results with the pupils. Although focusing on English language the system has also been shown to improve children’s understanding in maths and science.
Performances in national reading tests have shown an average improvement in reading age of 35 months. Children also enjoy the lessons to a far greater extent once the “codes” had been broken.
With the debris of failed educational initiatives laying deep around the feet of school heads the fact a new teaching scheme can have such dramatic results must be hugely encouraging. The fact the scheme was developed by a teacher must give other teachers fresh hope and maybe the Department for Education a rude awakening.