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It's an old tradition that children are taught Latin in order to increase their understanding and knowledge of English. Word Roots won't teach your kids Latin, but it will help them broaden their English vocabulary through the study of Latin roots, prefixes and suffixes. Designed broadly for grades 4-12 and intended as a supplement rather than a complete vocabulary course, Word Roots will nevertheless drastically improve your students' decoding, reading and writing skills.
How Do These Work?
Word Roots Beginning is a primer for grades 3-4, books A1 and A2 are appropriate for grades 4-12, B1 and B2 are meant for 7-12. Each text begins with a brief introduction to teachers explaining the need for teaching Latin roots and the basic methodology of the books, which are consumable worktexts with complete answer keys in the back.
All texts begin with a pretest to gauge students' knowledge, followed by a number of warm-up exercises to get them ready for decoding words and identifying patterns. The rest is simply one-page exercises where students first identify the Latin roots of a group of words, then complete fill-in-the-blank sentences to prove they understand how those words are used in context.
A number of extension worksheets in the back of every text reinforce information presented; these can also serve as assessment tests administered at key points to determine what kids have learned. Suggestions and word lists for independent study give students some of the tools they need to do etymological research on their own, and to explore English words that derive from other languages like Greek and Anglo-Saxon.
These aren't "cute" at all, no little drawings or funny stories. There isn't a lot of teacher support—no guides, no notes, no lesson plans. Fortunately, the books themselves are pretty self-explanatory, and after an initial shove kids should be able to complete each text on their own. The answer keys in back are helpful as well, and ensure you won't have to spend hours with a red pen.
If you're looking for a full-fledged vocabulary program or a Latin course (even a Latin supplement), look elsewhere. If you want to give your kids some valuable tools for decoding words and understanding meanings, even if they've never encountered a particular word before, this is a great place to start. You may well want to go further once they've completed these texts, but the straightforward presentation and constant drilling will go a long way toward helping your students become better readers and better writers with ever-growing and elastic vocabularies. For a more in-depth study we recommend Vocabulary from Classical Roots for its comprehensive coverage of material.
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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