Learning English Morphology for Efl Learners

1 January 2017

This essaytries to explain about how to learn English morphology, especially for EFL learners. Before we straight to the ways that can be applied in learning morphology, we have to know about morphology first. Morphology can be defined as “a branch of linguistics concerned with analyzing the structure of words. The morphology of a given word is its structure or form” (Baldick, 2001). Actually, from the meaning above, we can conclude that morphology is the branch of linguistics that focused on the study of structure and formation of words in a language. In this case, we focus on English morphology.

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Based on that definition, we get the purposes of learning morphology that we are going to study about what the words in a language are, what the function of words, and how the words can be formed. Overall, we can say that this essay can help us to know and give the knowledge about some ways and tips to learn morphology easily. We can get many advantages of learning English morphology. They are : the knowledge of morphology can be applied among the learners to increase our vocabulary, detect the changes of word classes, know the word origins and enhances our mind to think creatively.

Morphology can helps us as an EFL learner to increase our vocabulary, maybe we can combine morphemes to form a new word. As an EFL learners , we are newly exposed to the words in a variety of contexts . At school before, morphology is not being added together with the spelling curriculum. So now, we need to explore morphology by choose words or morpheme which will provide the most benefit for ourselves in order to create new words. Informally, word formation rules form new words. There are two types of word formation that are derivational and also compounding word.

Compounding word is a word formation process that involves combining two free morphemes to form a new word in a single compound form. For example, a free morpheme girl is combined with another free morpheme; friend will form a new single word girlfriend. Girl is a free morpheme because it is a smallest meaningful unit of sound so do the word friend. In addition, both girl and friend are complete word forms in their own right before the compounding process has been applied, and later are treated as one form. In ordinary English spelling, compounds are sometimes spelled as single words, as in blackbird, blackboard.

Sometimes the parts are connected by a hyphen, as in jig-saw and sometimes they are spelled as two words, as in chain saw, oil well. However, we are justified in classifying all such cases as compound words not considering their conventional spelling for a variety of reasons. The second type of word formation is derivation. Derivation involves the combination of free morpheme with affixes or suffixes. The most obvious word that use this type of combination is ‘learner’, the free morpheme learn combined with suffix –er to form a new word ‘learner’.

So, a new word formed will be our new vocabulary and it can help us understand English better. As we studied morphology, we knew that one of the advantages of learning morphology is its knowledge can help English learnerss in identifying the changes of word classes. A familiar distinction is that between nouns and verbs, and there are several ways that we can justify this in English. For example, learner is derived by adding -er to the verb learn. When the suffix -er is added to a verb, a new noun is created. Another example is, we can form a noun happiness from the adjective happy.

The word happiness is formed by adding an ending, -ness, to happy. This process is referred as derivational morphology because it derives a new word from the old one. Derivational process typically applies to nouns, verbs and adjectives, thus allowing us to change the category of the word. After we know about the purpose of learning English morphology, we as EFL learners have to know and do the basic insructions or steps that must be followed to learn morphology easily. (Laura Payne, 2011. Page : 1) The first, we should know what a morpheme is.

A morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit in a language. Although we thought that word is the basic meaningful element of a language, but it can be broken down into smaller units that we called morpheme. So, morpheme is the smallest one. The second, we should understandhow individual morphemes carry meaning. For example, in word nationalization, nation (function as main morpheme/root); -al (function as a morpheme that changes the word to an adjective); -iz (function as a morpheme that changes the word to a verb); -ation (function as a morpheme that changes the word to a noun).

The third, we should know the different types of morphemes. It can be free or bound morpheme. A free morpheme is the morpheme that can stand alone as a word (e. g. nation). On the contrary, a bound morpheme is a morpheme that can not stand alone as a word and must be attached to another morpheme to carry meaning (e. g. _al, -iz, -ation). The fourth, we have to know that free morphemes are classified as open-class and closed-class. Open-class (as known as lexical morphemes) are nouns, verbs, and adjectives which can take additional morphemes.

Closed-class (as known as functional morpheme) are conjunctions, prepositions, and determiners which cannot take an additional morpheme. The fifth, we have to understand that bound morphemes are classified as inflectional and derivational affixes or roots. Inflectional morphemes (e. g. –er, -ed, -s) don’t change the gammatical function of the word, but derivational morphemes (e. g. -ness and –ify) do. For example : Inflectional morpheme (neatneater : adjective adjective), whereas derivational morpheme (neatneatness : adjective noun).

The last, we should find a list of words and practice breaking the words into the morphemes from which they are built. Trial and practical can be the good way for us to get comprehension more. All of instructions above is very useful to make us understand easier about morphology. After EFL learners do all of instructions above, maybe they can get some problems. Words such asinstitutional, react, input are described morphologically as (institute + tion + al), (re +act), and (in + put).

Students sometimes over-generalize what they learn, so they describe words like repel as (re + pel), incident (in + cident), repeat (re + peat). Those words can not be described morphologically in this way because they are a part of the stem/root, i. e. in repel, (pel) can not give meaning when it stands alone unlike react (act) which gives meaning when it stands by itself. It has been observed that derivational morphemes (e. g. prefix dis) pose more difficulties to EFL learners than inflectional [grammatical] morphemes (e. . plural –s). This is due perhaps to the fact that during the early stages of learning English, students do not have good command of grammar rules; they very often forget the –sfor the third person singular (goes) and conjugate irregular past tense forms by adding –ed (drinked), whereas derivational morphemes are presented as a list of vocabularies where students can memorize them, for example, happy – unhappy and useful –useless. In this respect, Norman Segalowiz (2003) and others (in Lightbown & Spada, 2003, p. 9) have suggested that during second language acquisition, “learners have to pay attention at first to any aspect of the language that they are trying to understand or produce … [by] using cognitive resources to process information”. However, Lightbown and Spada have argued that there is a limitation to the amount of information a learner can pay attention to. That is, while learners at the earliest stage concentrate more on understanding the main words of the message, they may not pay attention to the grammatical morphemes attached to some of the words that do not affect the meaning.

Consequently, with practice, those words become automatically used by the learners. Beside that, in learning morphology, we can do some activities or just like make practice to shape our expertness in the English morphology. Therefore, we can get comprehension more about English morphology. The activities or practices should be done repeatedly and continuously. These activities such as identify base and affix, find the affix, and add the affix. First, identify base and affix. At this activity, we can use a list of words. Some of words are simple root words, but the others have prefixes, suffixes, or both.

We can give the symbol for each. For instance, circle the roots, underline the prefixes, and double underline the suffixes. Try it continuously and as many as possible until we get the real comprehension. Second, find the affix. In this activity, we are going to look for prefixes or suffixes from the text in a book. From the affix that we have searched, we would know the meaning and the function of the words. Maybe these words as noun, verb, adjective, or adverb. So, we will know the actual meaning of the text by finding the affixes. Third, add the affix.

This activity is little bit difficult from the two above. We can create the words and add all the morphemes together. In conclusion, we know that EFL learners have to study morphology, so that they can understand and speak English easily. Morphology is the branch of linguistics that focused on the study of structure and formation of words in a language. We will get some advantages of learning morphology, such as increasing our vocabulary, detecting the changes of word classes, knowing the word origins and enhancing our mind to think creatively.

I give at least six basic step that must be followed to understand about morphology. They are : know what a morpheme is, understand how individual morphemes convey meaning, recognize the different types of morphemes, know that free morphemes are further classified as either open-class or closed-class, understand that bound morphemes are further classified as either inflectional or derivational affixes or roots and find a list of words and practice breaking the words into the morphemes from which they are built.

I think that learning English morphology is not easy as learning the others aspect of English. EFL learners must be get some problems in learning morhology. For shaping our ability in learning English morphology, we can do some activities such as identifying base and affix, finding the affix, and adding the affix. Trial and practical can be the good way for us to get comprehension more.

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