OnDemand: How English Words Really Work: An Introduction to Morphology

To master reading and spelling children need to learn not only the sound structure of words but that they also have a morphological structure, in other words can be split into units of meaning.

This knowledge enables learners to improve their skills decoding and spelling beyond syllable patterns and discover that both spelling/ semantic links across words are an invaluable influence on their vocabulary development


Beginning with an exploration of everyday base words and affixes, the course will show how to apply your knowledge of these patterns to the teaching of multisyllabic English words of Latin origin, and its potential to enhance vocabulary skills. During the process you will discover why and how the roots of English have led to the belief, albeit unjustified, that the English spelling system is awkward and contradictory

Course Description

Mastery of the written English system demands the ability to ‘crack’ two codes. Initially, the alphabetic principle, or phonic structure, which teaches children to apply their knowledge of letter/ sound relationships to decode and spell words. The second, a morphological one, emphasises the structure of meaning within words as opposed to sounds. Alas, as English spelling does not appear to have a high level of consistency between spelling pattern and sounds, relying on the alphabetic code alone is insufficient. It is this feature that has given rise to its reputation as an awkward and contradictory system with more exceptions than accord.

The presentation aims to redress the balance by explaining why the morphological structure of English words, together with its companion (etymology,) has influenced English spelling, and the importance of teaching both codes simultaneously. Examples throughout will illustrate when and how morphology can be combined with phonic based instruction (already embedded in the NLS) or used independently to manage specific vocabulary. Research has shown that teaching students the logic of their spelling system – how words really work - benefits their reading, spelling abilities and vocabulary skills from KSt1 onwards. For those who teach them, morphology provides a motivating way of engaging learners, presents many opportunities for interactive investigation, and for all a fascinating exploration. NB Knowledge of Latin not required, simply an enquiring mind!

  • To understand how the origin and development of the English language from three ancient languages has influenced its modern written structure, and resulting perception of it being unreliable and perplexing
  • To appreciate the importance of the morphological structure of English words in the development of reading, spelling and vocabulary skills
  • To learn to apply this knowledge effectively to enable learners of all ages master the English written system, particularly those who find it challenging

Course Outcome

  • To understand why and how the origins (etymology) of the English language, has impacted on its modern written structure
  • To learn that the morphological structure of English vocabulary represented in spelling pattern signifies the meaning of words, and how words with the same origins share these features
  • To reflect on how to apply this knowledge to develop and enhance a learner’s literacy skills spelling and vocabulary knowledge


None required


Open to all, no restrictions

Target Audience

Primary and secondary classroom teachers, teaching assistants, SENCos, specialist teachers, and tutors in FE and HE  


This course is on demand and is a recording of a live event.

Delegates will have direct access to the event in the ‘My Online Events’ section of their account for two weeks from the payment date, and can watch as any times as they like during that period. Please allow a few minutes for it to appear, or refresh the page if necessary.

Course Materials

Delegates will be able to download handouts and print off to have with them while watching the recordings.

Terms & Conditions

Please note, this training must be paid in full before access is given to the webinar. By submitting a booking, you are agreeing to pay Patoss Ltd within 30 days. You are also agreeing to accept our Cancellation/Transfer Policy and Terms and Conditions which are shown at the bottom of the website page 

Delegates will be responsible for ensuring that they have suitable Wi-Fi, hardware and software to enable them to view the webinar.



Sheila Rostill, Webinar Administrator

E: srostill@patoss-dyslexia.org

T:   07956 644 786

When & Where

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Cancellation/Transfer Policy

Please ignore the date that comes up when you book your ticket. This refers to when the course was set up and does not affect your access to the course.


This course is worth 1.5 hours CPD