Lexicology for Reading provides a modern take and twist on a proven theory.






Read on to see how elements of it have been proven

to be both informative and effective and how the idea of Lexicology for Reading evolved.

The CPD (Context/Parts/Dictionary) Approach

Programmed Vocabulary

by James Isaac Brown

1908 - 2002


James Isaac Brown focused on 14 root words - each of which were proven to provide the key to the meaning of at least 1,000 words. He maintained that his 14 words contained the 20 most important prefixes and 14 most important roots. They were called the most important because they were found in 14,000 words in an abridged dictionary and nearly 100,000 words in the unabridged dictionary.


It is very difficult to have a completely unique idea in the 21st Century. The internet, however, facilitated my research and I am pleased to have discovered that James Isaac Brown found his 20 prefixes in at least 1,000 words. The 'Lexicology for Reading,' Prefixology Flashcard box contains 55 cards with 64 Prefixes. An internet word search, on any of the popular word finding websites, starting with any one of the prefixes will give you an idea of how they are an invaluable building tool to thousands of words.


I have entered Prefixology and Suffixology into the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and await their approval. I have not been successful in my search to find either in previous use. I would love to hear from you if you can show me a reference to either term.


How the Idea of Lexicology for Reading Evolved.


Raised during the baby boom on Reading for Meaning using Whole Language (not Phonics) with no Formal Grammar Teaching, in schools at the time, I was a late developer. Blessed with Scarletina then Scarlet Fever I was fortunately taught to read at home during an extended period of absence from school.Taught using Phonics and creating Flashcards for every new , unfamiliar word. Out of school hours I was formally taught grammar by a Public School Teacher and consequently built some foundations. My family moved home to ensure that my sister could attend the local Single Sex, Church School and not a Comprehensive. In reality this meant that we attended a Secondary Modern School to avoid a large Comprehensive. I had English Homework once! It was in the second year. I remember it clearly: we had to write a story and I wrote about a Fairground. Then I changed Teacher and was never given homework again. This was The Seventies - the time of the strikes and for three years my English book was not marked but I was allowed to take it home at the end of the year. Nobody questioned it, nobody complained. Miraculously I carried on regardless (as I have a Growth Mindset) and gained a place on a Batchelor of Education Honours course. It was impressed upon me at my interview that although I would follow the four year course if I failed the honours I would gain an Ordinary Degree and if I failed the ordinary I would gain a Teaching Certificate - unless of course I failed that too or dropped out. With my letter of acceptance I was sent a reading list and HOMEWORK. I was thrilled, I was bought the homework book, I highlighted it and wrote a synopsis of it. During my first lecture we were asked to raise our hands if we had been to a Secondary Modern School - well I had but I wasn't stupid ... I'd read the book so I thought it best not to raise my hand because I knew what was coming:


'Nobody, not one! Well that's no surprise. Somebody has to wipe bottoms and clean the streets. The Secondary Modern was designed for Education for Ignorance! You are amongst the top 12% in the country who study a degree.'


Those that know me will know the struggle I had to keep quiet. I was so shocked that he admitted it out loud that I've probably managed to quote him exactly word for word after all these years. For a nano second I was sure he meant me when he said 'Not one!' and was expecting me to put my hand up but I was so excited to be at my first lecture that I didn't fancy being humiliated before I'd even started. I came to a quick decision that he hadn't done his homework and had no idea that there was an imposter in the room.


From that moment on I knew that I had made the right decision. These students - the top 12% were not going to be interested in making sure that Every Child Matters. Fortunately I was wrong and many of them specialised in Special Educational Needs and believe in Equal Opportunities.


At my first teaching interview I was asked 'If you were offered the job would you take it?' Everyone looked horrified when I said 'No!' I explained that I wasn't prepared to drive a coach to the sports centre and be solely responsible for the students as well as driving regardless of being reassured that I did not need a PSV licence because the passengers did not pay. I was fully prepared to drive a minibus - but a coach!? When I told them that I thought that it was too dangerous and I did not want to take the risk the dagger looks really said ' Cheeky little Madam - who does she think she is?' Religious Education was the only subject that was compulsory, at the time, so I happily told them that I felt it deserved to be taught by a specialist and that no I would not teach Religious Education instead of English - all because I had been to a Church School.


My first English teaching post was in a Social Priority Area on the Outer London Fringe. I had a further interview set up for the following week. I didn't need to take the job - I chose it. My year seven English class predominantly had reading ages between 6 years 5 months and 9 years. This was also my first experience of Traveller Families. It was a baptism of fire and I loved it. Child centred teaching, adapting to the needs of individuals (real teaching), before the pressures of teaching the National Curriculum.


As a teacher of English my main interests are: Education for All; creating Lifelong Learners and improving Literacy. Long before there was a National Curriculum in English my vocabulary teaching strategy was to break words down in order to understand them, spell them and ultimately build them. This later became an approach through affixes which I developed into Flashcards. Etymology is now mentioned in the National Curriculum and several affixes are introduced, not exclusively through the English curriculum, at various levels.


keen to ensure that my, Lexicology for Reading, approach to reading through Prefixology and Suffixology is seen as an excellent approach to tackle the Literacy Crisis - I set about researching to see who else endorsed the idea hence my findings above on:

The CPD (Context/Parts/Dictionary) Approach

Programmed Vocabulary

by James Isaac Brown

1908 - 2002



February 2017 Lexicology for Reading, Year Ten Programme, was Ofsted Inspected and received a very enthusiastic and encouraging response acknowledging the strengths of the strategies, the evidence of prior learning and the quantity of learning achieved in the session.


We look forward to working with you through your Ofsted Inspection.


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