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Street Language and Learning

Delci C. Lev

Contents of Curriculum Unit 86.04.10:

To Guide Entry

Life on the Streets

I am a teacher of what is known as “highly disruptive youth.” The students who end up at The Urban Youth center do so because they cannot function in the traditional classroom. Their disruptive behavior has prevented the educational process from being effective. The Urban Youth Center is often a student’s last alternative in the public school system. Before one can begin to teach students in this setting, it is necessary to first understand some of the behavior and attitudes exhibited by them.

In most cases these students have been manifesting unacceptable and/or anti-social behavior since the beginning of their school careers. They are angry, fearful, stubborn, willful, untrusting, anti-social, hostile, frightened, frustrated, aggressive, sad, and disappointed, and, very often, they hate. Alternative measures have been tried throughout their schooling, yet have not been successful.

In many cases the high school student has been incarcerated, for drugs—dealing and usage—theft, violence, grand and/or petty larceny. The middle school student has had his/her brush with the law in a less formal way; the crimes are of the same nature but are treated differently because of their ages.

Some of the population has missed as much as two consecutive years of school. Others, because of anti-social behavior, have missed anywhere from thirty to seventy days of schooling annually. Every day that a student misses school s/he loses educational ground, for the learning process is built on daily instruction. When a student misses blocks of time as we see with our students, significant educational voids emerge. Oral reading, reading comprehension, spelling, and writing all lack the fluency one expects of students in a middle or high school setting who regularly attend. Through regular attendance, a student builds a firm educational foundation and learns the rules, cadence and discipline that regular attendance instills, as well. There is a vast difference between the student who attends school on a regular basis and one who does not, regardless of what grade level they are functioning at.

Some of the students’ home lives are in part the reason they are with us. The students at the Urban Youth Center, in many instances, come from disruptive or broken homes. Some have parents who are unable to parent well, because of their own problems. In some instances, these students are children with children of their own.

Substance abuse on the part of the student and/or the parent also exists. Even when the parent is out of the home, the effect of drugs still lingers. There are instances where parents have lost control as the result of long hours at work, multiple children, single parenting, overwhelming financial pressures and the breakdown of the family. The one common thread which has led the majority of youngsters to our door is poverty—poverty of a financial, emotional and cultural nature compounded by lack of opportunity.

Their lives are circumspect, revolving around survival in their respective neighborhoods. To survive, they must learn to “make it on the streets.” This means being able to walk in ones neighborhood without being beaten up and/or robbed. It means being “down” with the group; “down” is comparable to being “in.” To be a “home town boy,” part of a group, not just any group, but the neighborhood “in group.” In our world, being “in” is not a matter of survival. The most we can lose, in the world of white, middle-class standards, is a potential friend, job promotion, invitation to the “right organization or club.” The kids I work with can lose their lives—and have before.

Survival requires all of their energies, energies which the average child would otherwise use to go through the normal developmental stages that would allow him/her to function in a normal school setting. As a result of these energies spent, developmental voids emerge, presenting clear cut deficiencies.

Language Use: Resistance and Communication

Out of many developmental voids (emotional growth, intellectual stimulus and growth, physical growth), one emerges very clearly as destructive to the learning process: it is an inability to use language clearly, to express oneself, to understand and to communicate. Early in a child’s life, dialogue between parent and child (or any primary care giver) becomes a way of communicating. This interaction teaches the child word acquisition, expression of feeling, expression of thought, organization of thought, and identification of words. Generally, it is through the conversational mode that children acquire basic, socially-acceptable communication skills. What is taught at home is built on and used in school by teachers as a basis for continued communication, which also allows for the learning process to continue in the school setting. Many of the students 1 deal with have not had this foundation early in life. Often 1 am dealing in a situation where my students can’t make themselves understood and can’t understand me. There is an inability to articulate what they don’t understand. This is not a discussion of Black English versus Standard English. Rather, it is an inability to use language to express oneself because of limited language acquisition. Their environments and backgrounds do not value words, but do value actions. These actions rather than words allow them to survive. The lack of articulation is rooted in its lack of value in their respective worlds.

Before we articulate thoughts, we organize them in our mind’s eye. The students exhibit a clear cut inability to organize thought and then express these thoughts in a cogent fashion. Lack of practice, lack of familiarity with words is the culprit rather than lack of innate ability. As the ability to articulate increases, the anti-social behavior decreases.

Try to imagine having to protect yourself to the extent these students do and couple this with an inability to express yourself. Survival becomes a way of life. Perhaps we can begin to understand some of the anger, hostility, frustration, defensiveness and inability to organize and express thought. We as teachers in this setting face formidable barriers in trying to educate the population we serve. Because of prior experiences, for many students, schooling is not a top priority, nor do they effectively learn using traditional methodologies. We deal with the negative emotional effect of prior attempts at educating this population as well as experiencing the educational voids which have occurred as a result of their histories.

For our purposes I call these barriers we experience resistance. This resistance has many components—some are of a personal nature and have been mentioned; others are more general and indicative of the group as a whole. Teenagers at best can be difficult; this group especially is trying. In this case, power is a very important part of their survival in the streets. Relinquishing power is alien on the streets, and it is unrealistic to expect them to become suddenly acquiescent in the classroom situation. There is danger for this type of student to be passive in the educational setting; as with two-year olds, high activity levels act as an organizing principle. Education must be highly interactive, involving as many of their senses as possible for it to be effective.

Success in the educational arena with these kids depends on helping them gain a sense of control over their skills. At the same time, the teacher needs to act as a facilitator for acquiring a skill, not as a threat. Too often in the regular classroom, the teacher’s expectations translate into a threat to a student who feels helpless to achieve them. Paradoxically, the more power you help them gain through skill acquisition, the more control you gain with this population.

It is important to imbue students with the self-knowledge and awareness that only educational choices and experiences can afford. I hope to provide this opportunity.

The student I work with is the “street wise” child. Through strategies developed on the streets they have learned to survive, or “run the game,” as they say. The machinery used to develop street skills can be retooled and used to promote another form of survival. The basic concept is a process which will generate new knowledge from the student’s already existing frame of reference. For example, the kids shoot craps; this is a basic component of street life. They bet on the game and take side bets on the odds as well. Take this situation and pull from it math skills needed to compute the numbers being bet on; have them articulate the interpersonal plays going on. In the area of math they are dealing with multiplication tables, percentages and basic addition and subtraction. In describing the situation, they would be using their inner resources for language development and articulating the dynamics of interpersonal relations and the psychology of their world, which is the same in the standard world. The only differences are the stakes. The math knowledge can be applied to mortgage rates, bank rates, interest rates, and budgeting. The knowledge of interpersonal relationships is now being observed on a conscious level; having students write down what they see is invaluable in terms of increasing their own level of awareness as well as their writing skills. By transferring their street knowledge to academics, I am conveying the message that they do indeed have knowledge. This has a positive effect on their level of confidence.

Another component of resistance is the immediacy with which they need a response. There is the need for immediate reward and/or continued positive reinforcement in order for them to continue working. They are comfortable only with short-term goals; long-term goals are not part of their frame of reference. Nothing in their lives would help to accomplish long term benefits: relationships, parents, money, housing, jobs. Their collective life experiences have fostered only short term goals. However, at this developmental level, deferred gratification must become part of their baggage if they are to ever advance beyond the rudimentary stages of learning. Goals will initially and intentionally be short term, not to buy into the need for immediate gratification, but rather to create the sense of a manageable goal, one they can achieve and build on.

The last area of resistance I will deal with is the relevance of standard methodologies used to teach students of this background. The students I work with are not receptive to traditional methods; they have been unsuccessful in school for years and do not see the value of a traditional education. Their attitude is “show me—if you can.” Walking in their shoes, or more aptly, sitting in their seats, I would have to agree. Any attempt at educating them has to be building a bridge for them to see the effect of the process. It has to be short and rewarding, given their need for immediacy, and relevant to themselves before they will allow you to give them more. It’s like introducing a new food to a baby—you have to get them to taste it and like it before they want more. My approaches are Skinnerian: There will be an immediate reward for every step taken by the students and through many small steps perhaps they will start building a road and seeing the relevance of walking on it.


The stages of development in the following unit are predicated on the idea that language growth and development is cumulative in effort. Thus as students progress through stages of development, each stage will build on, contain, and advance beyond the previous stage.

Clustering activities will serve as a starting point for learning to choose words, recognize words and use a word or idea to focus their writing. Clustering will branch out into two different areas of study, articulation and use of familiar words, and acquisition and understanding of unfamiliar words. By giving validity to the words they do know, and asking them to acquire new words, they will be building a language base for better expression, both verbal and written. Exposure to idioms, popular quotations, proverbs, the learning of prefixes/roots will help them to expand thoughts and ideas. Journal writing will emphasize the actual writing of the idea and allow for further exploration on the part of the students using their newly acquired skills in the written form.

In the last stage, I will explore the use of imagery with the students in order to stretch their minds. Their imagination and world view is limited to the world they know. Thus, without exposure to other worlds, their imaginations cannot go beyond what they know. Enrichment of the imagination will help them to seek out ideas and experiences they had not known before. These enrichment lessons will include listening to music, verbally composing tales, and articulating feelings. Once these students begin to have enrichment experiences they want to articulate, they will be even more motivated to use the language they have recently acquired. The unit comes full circle when enrichment returns to clustering and discovery techniques as the students use these methods of discover what they think and feel, now on a different level.

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Because language is a key area which presents difficulty, it is here where my lessons in skill-building begin.

Language development precedes the ability to read and write. If this skill is not nurtured at each stage of development, we as teachers see a breakdown in the ability to use words to communicate thoughts and ideas in a cogent fashion. It then becomes necessary to compensate; however, you are forced to shortcut traditional methods in this arena. To begin with, years have been lost and you cannot, on the middle and high school level, present material to them that would normally be presented to a grammar school child to increase their skill levels sufficiently to allow them to write. In an attempt to counter the situation, I have employed the concept of clustering of ideas and thoughts around a central word—a concept exposed by Gabrielle Lasser Rico, Writing the Natural Way. This technique has helped considerably in breaking down barriers which would normally prevent the students from developing their ideas and thoughts in an organized pattern. The process provides a framework for the students to comfortably operate in by drawing on their life experiences/frame of reference; at the same time it is not too demanding of their abilities. It has the additional benefit of setting the stage for further growth; allowing for organization of thought which leads to paragraph development; reinforcing communication skills; and acting as a mental storing process.

The clustering/mazing process begins as a group activity as opposed to an individual process. A topic is selected by the class. One student acts as a recorder by putting all thoughts and ideas on the blackboard. The class comes up with words and phrases that relate to the central word or idea. After this task has been completed, another student is asked to be the recorder. A large sheet of paper is tacked onto the wall. The recorder then writes down complete thoughts expressed by the students using a selected word in the cluster.

Example of group cluster:

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The preceding cluster led to a discussion of white values verses black values. Through the development and visualization of the cluster, the class argued and discussed different values.

Clothes gear suits
suits punk rock
style casual
Bee Boy
Music Hip Hop Rock & Roll
concerts concerts
boxes radios
Jewelry gold silver
The conclusions were interesting. They decided that both races were prejudiced. The races at times are different. However, most of the time we are talking about the same things but calling them by different names. Because things were different it did not make them better or worse, just different.

At the discovery and discussion stage, writing begins and will include increased vocabulary and expansion of thought based on class input.

The next is an example of a cluster done by an individual.

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After clustering, the student wrote the following paragraphs:

“Alcoholism was and still is a very serious problem in my life. My grandfather was an alcoholic until he died. My mother still is an alcoholic and her drinking lead to violence and sadness. The reason people [drink] is to try to avoid their problems.

Children of aIcoholics don’t want to go home. And if they do come home they come at all kinds of late hours. And the parent is drunk which lead to yelling and violence. Sometimes, and most of the time, the children get in trouble in the streets. I learned from experience. Most of the time there is a lack of food and clothing. All money is going towards the alcoholic’s drinking. This is a bad sickness that the alcoholic has to overcome.”

This student has done a great deal of writing for me over the semester, yet as the semester progressed, the individual became more open generally, clearer in his/her thought process, less angry and with increased vulnerability became more responsive to learning in aIl parts of the individual’s being. The doors are starting to open.

Clustering is an excellent technique to brainstorm an idea. Additionally, it provides the student with a vehicle to expand, organize and stimulate the thought processes. It acts as a catalyst and teaches progression of thought which can be utilized in all other areas of school and life.

The clustering activity will commence on Monday; on each successive day of the week there will be further refinement by the group until the final draft is completed on Friday. The themes and stories will be compiled and copies given to all students upon completion.

For three weeks clustering will be done as a group activity, with each student having copies of the group’s work. At this point, they should be able to begin writing individual themes, stories, essays. All corrections will be done through peer interaction with teacher input in the final draft form.

Sample Lesson Plan I—Clustering/Mazing/Brainstorming

Objective  To develop a cluster of thoughts and/or ideas around a central topic. This can be done as a group or by the individual. Initially this is done as a group activity.

1) The class/individual will select a topic or subject that will be introduced as a single word or phrase.
2) Words, thoughts, ideas will be elicited from the group/individual that relates to the central subject, word or phrase.
3) Each word or phrase elicited will be further expanded upon through class discussion or individual input. Additional vocabulary will be used to further develop thoughts expressed in discussion.
4) The students then will write down a feeling about a word or try to express a relationship between two words. (At this stage little time is spent on grammar and spelling.)
Students are selected on a rotating basis to act as the class recorder.

Sample Lesson Plan II—Clustering/Mazing/Brainstorming

Objective  To refine and define written work completed in Lesson Plan I.

1) To write in an organized and cogent fashion thoughts and ideas set forth at the end of Lesson Plan I.
2) Students are to work in a small group or with instructor on expansion of written work completed in Plan I.
3) First draft, or rough copy, will be submitted to instructor for corrections, to include spelling, grammar, punctuation, style.
4) Return to student for final draft.*
* If this is to be a class clustering activity, the same steps would be followed, the only difference being the class would partake in the entire project as a whole. class recorder would be responsible for writing down ideas.

B—Street Term Dictionary

Central to what I am doing with the students is a need for them to know that their world co-exists with the traditional world and that both worlds have value to them. One way to increase this sense of co-existence and value is to give credibility to their language. In essence, I’m saying “I’ll acknowledge your world,” and in so doing I’m also saying, “Please acknowledge mine.” (Traditional world means the white, middle-class, system of education.) To this end we will compile a dictionary of street terms. Such a study of street terms will draw on their existing language base.

As a group they will list the terms and through discussion we will write down the Standard English definitions. Conversely, Standard English terms will be listed and the students will list the street term counterpart. The activity will be done three times a week; it will be cumulative with all students participating. This will be teacher directed and implemented by the students.

Sample Lesson Plan I—Street Term Dictionary

Objective  To list three street term words or phrases used by the students. Student will be selected on a rotating basis to act as class recorder.

1) Recorder elicits responses from students and lists street terms or phrase.
2) Recorder acts as mediatory, with assistance from teacher in writing down the Standard English usage of the term or phrase.
3) On a weekly basis the teacher will type up the list of words and their definitions, copy them and hand them out to students.
This will be a cumulative class activity with all sharing in the fruits of the class’s labors.

Students will be encouraged by the teacher to use the terms developed in class in their respective essays, themes and stories. When using the street term, the Standard English definition will be explained in the text or in footnote form.

Example of terms and the Standard English counterpart:

Street Term Standard English
Bee Boy Clothes
Gear Clothes
Box Radio
Home town boy Neighborhood friend, part
of the “in” group.
Hip Hop Rock & Roll

C—Teaching of Prefix and Roots

In an attempt to increase vocabulary and create a personal reference or catalog of information for each student, the teaching of prefixes and roots will become part of the curriculum. The lessons will include the introduction of 15 of the most commonly used prefixes and 45 of the most commonly used Latin roots and 15 Greek roots. (See Appendix A, B, C and D.)

Studies in street terms set forth the process of language study in familiar territory. Now they will take that same process into unfamiliar territory. The purpose is to increase knowledge of words and their meaning, which in turn will increase their ability to use words for verbal and written usage.

When ever possible, the street term dictionary will be linked to the teaching of prefixes and roots. It is not possible to plan when this will occur since the development of the dictionary will be planned in essence by the students. It is, however, important to note that the connection will be made whenever the opportunity presents itself in either street term phrase or the Standard English translation.

Sample Lesson Plan I—Prefixes and Roots

Objective  To increase students’ vocabulary by increasing their working knowledge of prefixes and roots.

1) Two prefixes/roots will be introduced a day. This will include:
____a) prefix/root
____b) meaning
____c) key word
____d) meaning original/present
2) Student will put prefix/root on front of an index card. They will also include a sentence using the prefix/root in a word. On the back of the card they will write the meaning of the prefix/root and the word.
Note: The ability of the students will dictate the number of items they will be given daily.

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Sample Lesson Plan II—Prefixes and Roots

Objective  To measure recall of information taught to students.
1) Administer the following exercise.

1. ___ Anthrop A. mechanics
2. ___ Arch B. time
3. ___ Auto C. first
4. ___ Bio D. man
5. ___ Chron E. Life
F. double
G. self.
Note: The ability of the students will dictate frequency and length of review exercises.

Sample Lesson Plan III—Prefixes and Roots

Objective  To determine correct usage of material taught.
Fill in the correct word, using the information given you in the last lesson on roots. The word or phrases in parentheses will guide you.

1. His ___ grandfather was a famous scientist.
____(on the father’s side)
2. ___ have the right of way before autos. (walkers)
3. Juam was ___ from school. (put out of)
4. Her ___ was a person of great ability. (person who is on the other side)
5. Canada ___ much wheat. (sells to another country)
Note: The ability of the students will dictate frequency and length of review exercises.

Material taken from A BASIC ROOT AND PREFIX VOCABULARY BUILDER; College Skills Center, Baltimore, Maryland 1984

D—Proverbs/Popular Quotations/Idioms

In a further attempt to increase vocabulary and flexibility of thought, students will be exposed to proverbs, popular quotations and idioms daily. Students will be asked to explain what they think they mean and then the intended meaning will be given. Discussion will take place regarding the meaning of the statements, and their application to every day life. When and where do you think these phrases have been used? Why and how do you think they evolved?

I am attempting to stimulate thinking skills by exposing them to many different forms of expression. This can be tied into their own street terms used in their daily lives.

They will be asked to tie these into writing assignments whenever possible.


You BUY land, you buy stones; you buy meat, you buy bones 1595
Buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest 1595
The buyer has need of hundred eyes, the seller of but one 1640
Much cry and little wool 1475
Out of the mouth of babes 1899
The nearer the church the farther from G_d 1303
Set a thief to catch a thief 1654
Tell the truth and shame the Devil 1548
If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well 1746
Thrift is a great revenue 1659?
Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead 1546
There will be an idiom, proverb or popular quotation on the board daily. A brief discussion will follow as to its meaning. After the students express their thoughts, I will give them the origin and meaning.

Sample Lesson Plan—Proverbs/Popular Quotations/Idiosm

Objective  To increase flexibility of thought, vocabulary and to instill in students the playfulness and wisdom of words.

1. Proverb, popular quotation, idioms will be written on the board.
____Example: The buyer has need of a hundred eyes, the seller but one.
2. Introduce, and allow enough time for discussion to take place and come to some kind of conclusion. The teacher will have to monitor and limit discussion time.
3. Discuss meaning.
____[It. chi compra ha bisogna di cent’ occhi; chi vende n’ ha assai di uno, he who buys needs a hundred eyes; he who sells but one.] 1640 E. HERBERT Outlandish Proverbs no. 390. The buyer needs a hundred eyes, the seIler not one. 1745 B. FRANKLIN Poor Richard’s Almanack (July). He who buys has need of 100 eyes, but one’s enough for him that seII the stuff. 1800 M. EDGEWORTH Parent’s Assistant (ed.3) III.86. He taught him.. to get.. from customers by taking advantage of their ignorance . . . He often repeated.. ‘The buyer had need of a hundred eyes; the seller had need of but one.’ 1843 R.S. SURTEES Handley Cross I.xiii. The buyer has need of a hundred eyes, the seller of but one, says another equestrian conjurer. 1928 Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News 7 Jan. 27 (caption) The buyer has need of a hundred eyes. The seller but one.1
Note: This detailed an explanation would take place only if the group is receptive to all the information.


We all have creative ability to a lesser or greater degree. Our creative ability is expressed in a multitude of ways; the way we speak, write, dress, the interests we have, thought patterns we own, as well as concrete expressions of creativity, such as theatre, dance, music and the visual arts.

Regardless of what form of expression we are looking at, creativity must be communicated to prove its existence. Students possess creative ability, which for the most part is untapped due to an inability to communicate and mentally stretch. There are several reasons for this: vocabulary is limited; and models by which to identify, analyze and articulate what they see, hear and feel are limited.

Through a series of exercises I plan to develop new pathways to increase their potential, to stretch their imaginations to have them further explore their own worlds through different eyes that will generate new ideas and patterns of thinking through sensory stimuli and utilize vocabulary learned in other parts of the unit that will enhance their natural abilities.

Sample Lesson Plan I—Imagery

Objective  To make students more aware of their creative abilities by responding to what they hear.
1) Play a piece of music. Sample pieces:

Magnetic Rag, Scott Joplin
Album: The Easy Winners, Angel s-37113
Dance of the Goblins (Scherzo Fantastique) Op. 25, Antonio Bazine
Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20, Pablo Saraste
Album: Itzhak Perlman
____Virtuose Violinist, Angel s-37454
A Different Kind of Blues
Chocolate Apricots
Night Thoughts
Album: A Different Kind of Blues
Composed by Andre Previn
Played by Itzhak Perlman, Andre Previn, Shelly Mann, Jim Hall, Red Mitchell
The Right Thing To Do
Album: The Best of Carly Simon
Un bel di, Madame Butterfly, Puccini, Renato Scotto (soprano)
Album: Great Hits from Grand Opera Angel s-36817
’S Wonderful, Clap Yo’ Hands
Album: George and Ira Gershwin Sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Verve VE-2-2525
2. Ask students a series of questions:
____a. What colors did you see?
____b. How did the piece of music make you feel?
____c. What mood were you in when the piece began?
________How did you feel after it was over?
Convey all of the above in the written word.

Sample Lesson Plan II—Imagery

Objective  To increase students creative mental imagery by creating a collective tale.

1) Select a secretary to record the tale.
2) Student/teacher begins a story with one sentence.
____Sample starter:
____While walking across the street I . . . .
____One dark rainy cold night I was walking down a lonely deserted street and . . . .
3) Each student adds one sentence until all have participated or the story is completed, whichever the class is comfortable with and/or makes sense.
4) Discussion follows evaluating the style and content of story.

Sample Lesson Plan III—Imagery

Objective  To make students more aware of their emotions.

1) Write two sentences defining the following words:
Fame Beauty Trust
Happiness Communication Security
Friendship Aggression Assertion
2) Look these up in a dictionary and compare your definition with the dictionary definition.
3) Evaluate.


Students will maintain journals. This activity will take place three times a week. Topics will initially be assigned; eventually, topics will be generated by the class. On two occasions (days) topics will be assigned; on the third day students will pick their own topics.

One purpose of the journal will be to exhibit the skills obtained from the other segments of the unit. It will have the additional benefit of providing students with an arena for personal self expression.

Samples of assigned topics:

Describe the perfect meal composed of junk food

Describe your favorite junk foods that you would put together as a meal. Describe the smells, textures and flavors of these foods.

A day in school

Describe a day in school from the moment you enter the building until the time you leave. What are your subjects? Which do you like and why? Describe your teachers and what effect do they have on the way they teach their subject matter.

Dropping out

Why do people drop out of school? Is it a catastrophe? What will happen as the result of a student dropping out of school? Is is positive or negative—describe.


Describe in as much vivid detail as you can recall an accident you witnessed or were involved in. Record this in your journal in the form of a personal account or as a police report.

A Family Ceremony or Special Event

Every family throughout the year shares in a special event or ceremony. Describe this as best you can. Where did it take place? Who was present? What occurred? Did you enjoy it? If so, how? If not, why not?

Describe a day in New York City

Who did you go with? Why did you go? Explain the events of the day from the time you left your home.

Create a city of the future you would like to live in

Draw a map of your proposed city. Describe the layout. How would people live? Where would people live? What types of jobs would they have? How will your city be different than the one you live in?

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COM together (also: with)
AD toward (also: to forward, at)
RE back (to an original state or position)
RE again (in a sense of repeating the root’s meaning)
UN not (used with adjectives and adverbs)
UN opposite act (with verbs)
DIS apart, parting from
IN into (also: in, on, upon)
IN not (when used with adjectives adverbs, it means “not,” when used with nouns, it means “without” or “lack of”)


EX out of (also: away, beyond formerly)
DE down (down from, away from) (This prefix usually gives the root it is joined to an opposite meaning.)
EN into (in, on)
PRO forward (on behalf of, for, in favor of, in front of)
SUB under (below, inferior, near)
BE all around, thoroughly
AB from, away from
PRE before (in the sense of time, order of rank or place)

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COM together complete
(aLso: with)

AD toward (also: ADvertise
to forward,


RE back (to an REcede
state or (RE + CED, to
position) move)
RE again (in the RECUR
sense of


to root’s


UN not (used UNkind
with adjec-

tives and


UN opposite act UNlock (the
(with verbs) opposite of “to lock”)
DlS apart, parting DISSECT
from (DIS + SEC,
to cut)
IN into (also: Inspire
in, on, IN + SPIR,
upon) to breathe
IN NOT (when INdefinite
used with (adj.)

and adverbs,

it means

“not,” when

used with

nouns, it means

“without” or

“Lack of”)

to seek together to try to win
to turn towards to call public attention
to move back

to run again to occur or happen again
to cut apart to cut apart
an animal,
plant, etc.
in order to
study structure.
to breathe into to put life,
thought into.

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AG—to drive (do, act, move)


AUD—to hear


CAD (CAS, CID)—to fall

CAP—to take, to seize

CED (CESS)—to go, move, withdraw

CLAUD—to close

COR (COUR)—heart

CORP (CORS)—body

CRED—to believe, to trust

CUR (CURS)—to run

DIC (DICT)—to say, talk, state

DUC (DUCT)—to lead

DOMIN—to rule

FAC—to do, make, produce

FER—to bring, to bear

FIN—end, limit

GEN—race, origin, class

JECT—to know

JUNCT (JUG, JOIN) to join, connect, unite

LEG (LECT)—to choose, select, read

LOC (LIEU)—to place-verb


LOQU (LOCU)—to talk, speak



MIT (MIS)—to send

MON—to warn, remind

MOR (MORT)—to die

NOM—name, fame

PATER (PATR)—father

PED (PED)—foot

PEL (PULS)—to drive


PON (POS)—to lace, put, set

PORT—to carry

SCRIB (SCRIPT)—to write

SPEC (SPECT)—to look at, perceive

STA (SIST)—to stand

TEN—to hold (other forms: TAIN, TIN)

TRA—to draw, drag

VERT—to turn

VIC (VIS)—to see, look, provide

VIV (VIT)—to live

VOC—to call

PEND—to weigh, hand, pay


ANTHROP—human being, man, manlike

ARCH—ancient, beginning, first




GRAPH—to write

HETERO—other, different

HOMO—same, like

LOG—study, science,

doctrine, word


PHIL—friend, lover



TELE—far, operating at a distance

THE—G_d, g_d

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AG—to drive ACT, IGagile—easy to move
(do, act, move)active, moving, doing, capable of moving
prodigal—squanderer, from Pro (forth) and AG (IG) (to drive)
ANN—year ENNannual—yearly
biennial—every two years
biannual—twice a year
AUDaudition—act of hearing a hearing test, the voice of a singer
audible—capable of beingheard
BENE—wellbenefactor—one who gives money or kindly help; from BENE (well) and FAC (to do)
benediction—blessing; from BENE (well) and DIC (say)
CAD (CAS, CID)—to falldecay—to grow less in power, DE (down) and CAD (to fall)
cascade—a waterfall
accident—an event not intended or planned for.
CAP—to take, to seizeCIP, CAPT,capable—having fitness or ability
CEPTincipient—in an early stage; beginning to take hold
except—leaving out, taking out
Materials on prefixes and roots taken from A BASIC PREFIX AND ROOT VOCABULARY BUILDER; College Skill Center, Baltimore, Maryland, 1984

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1J. A. Simpson, Edited by, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs (Oxford University Press, 1985) p. 29.

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Ade, George. Fables in Slang. C. Arthur Pearson Limited, 1988. Bandler, Richard, Grinder, John. Frogs into Princes. Real People

Press, 1979.

The book describes Neuro Linguistic Programming as a form of therapy which allows for personal growth and teaches a greater understanding of human behavior and communication.

Baugh, John. Black Street Speech. University of Texas Press, 1983

Discusses the cultural value and significance of vernacular black dialects.

Bruno, Bettelheim. Love is not Enough, Avon, 1971.

Study of disturbed children which provides us with more humane and less authoritarian ways of raising healthy children.

———. The Uses of Enchantment. Vintage Books, Division of Random House, 1977.

Enchanting book describing the importance and significance of fairy tales in a child’s life.

Deese, James. The Structure of Association in Language and Thought. The Johns Hopkins Press, 1965.

Dillard, J.L. Lexicon of Black English. The Seabury Press, 1977.

Haskins, Jim and Butt, Hugh F., M.D. The Psychology of Black Language Barnes & Noble Books, a Division of Harper & Row, Publishers, 1973.

Kernan, Claudia Mitchell. Language Behavior in a Black Community. University of California, Berkley, Ph.D., 1970. University Microfilms, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Study of Black American English.

Redl, Fritz and Wineman, David. Children Who Hate. The Free Press Paperback, Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. 1951.

Exploration of why behavior controls break down with children, and how successfully children defend themselves against adults in their lives.

Richardson, Alan. Mental Imagery. Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd Broadway House, 1969.

Study of how imagery relates to cognitive processes as thinking, perception and remembering.

Samuels, Mike, M.D. and Samuels, Nancy. Seeing With the Mind’s Eye. Random House, 1975.

Discusses the significance and importance of mental imagery to man.

Segal, Sydney Joelson. Imagery Current Cognitive Approaches. Academic Press, 1972.

The volume is based on the study of five psychologists’ different approaches to the study of imagery.

Sheehan, Peter W. The Function and Nature of Imagery. Academic Press, 1972.

A complication of many different points of view on the study and effect of imagery.

Smith, Charles G. Spenser’s Proverb Lore. Harvard University Press, 1970.

Smith, William George and Heseltine, Janet E. The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs. Oxford University Press, 1935.

Taylor, Archer. English Riddles from Oral Tradition. University of California Press, 1951.

Thurber. Fables of Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated. Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1940.

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Boatner, Ph.D., Maxine Tull, John Edward Gated, B.D., S.T.M., A Dictionary of American Idioms. Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 1966.

Evans, Bergan. The Word-A-Day Vocabulary Builder. Ballantine Books, 1963.

Funk, Mary and Peter. Word Power Made Simple. Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1986.

Simpson, J.A. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs. Oxford University Press, 1985.

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Contents of 1986 Volume IV | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

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