Focusing on the origins of words rather than simply their present form, BJU Vocabulary broadens students' vocabulary while providing them with a more foundational understanding of the nature and history of the English language. While some opt to use this as a spelling course for older students (there are brief guidelines in the teacher's editions), the emphasis is on word meanings rather than word structure, and words in each lesson are grouped accordingly. It's hard to make vocabulary "fun" in the sense most kids use that word, but few will be able to resist the wealth of fascinating information to be found here.
How Do These Work?
There are six levels covering grades 7-12, though each level could be used for one semester rather than an entire year. For every level there are fifteen 2-page weekly lessons consisting of text to be read by the student and written exercises. Student texts are consumable, lightly illustrated with full-color drawings and photographs, and self-contained. Teacher's editions simply contain answers to all exercises on full-size student pages. If you want to "present" the information you'll have to come up with material on your own, though these work perfectly well as student-directed courses.
Each level is self-contained, so you can start wherever you like according to your student's ability. Exercises range from crossword puzzles to fill-in-the-blank to matching words with definitions. The back of each book includes supplementary exercises and brief lesson-by-lesson review, though neither of these are very extensive. The primary focus is on words of Greek and Latin derivation, with Level E (11th grade) covering the way our language acquires words, and Level F (12th grade) discussing the way words and their meanings change.
This program offers a fairly unique approach to vocabulary instruction. Instead of simply presenting a list of words at the beginning of each lesson and then spending the rest of the time discussing those words, information is presented gradually, and often students are required to figure words out on their own from clues offered by the text. Not only are they growing their vocabulary through this, kids will learn a measure of reasoning skills and, more importantly as far as language arts are concerned, how to decode language and understand words that have not been previously encountered.
Our Honest Opinion:
BJU Vocabulary isn't the most thrilling course, but what vocabulary program is? It's solid and etymologically grounded, and provides students a good understanding of the nature, not just the content, of words. It isn't as thorough as a program like Vocabulary from Classical Roots, though the approach is similar (and honestly, a bit more challenging). Some people may not like how short the lessons are, especially as they're intended to cover a week's worth of work, but vocabulary is a fairly supplemental element of language arts and doesn't need to dominate too many hours. This one won't, but it will still prove beneficial in improving your kids' reading and writing skills.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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