Showing kids the Latin and Greek roots used to make so many of our own words is one of the most effective vocabulary instruction methods. By giving them the tools to decode words on their own, you not only increase their vocabularies, you also increase their word-acquisition capabilities. English from the Roots Up does this in a simple and straightforward manner based on rote memorization. This isn't an elaborate program, but if you keep your kids on task they will increase not only their knowledge of the language, but their reading, writing and test-taking skills as well. Neither you nor your children need to know any Latin or Greek to use this course, just how to read English.
How Do These Work?
Two books can be used with any grade level, and though you could use them in any order, it is strongly advised you use Book I first as some of the information in Book II builds on concepts taught in the first volume. The format is the same for both texts—one hundred words are covered in each, with about 2/3 of the words of Latin derivation and the rest from Greek. Each word has one page devoted to it, with the front and back of a flashcard at the top of the page and teaching tips below. Students make their own flashcards on 3"x5" cards using all or part of the information in the text before the teacher provides background information from the teaching tips.
On the front of each card is a Latin or Greek word (they're color-coded, red for Latin and green for Greek) and on the back its meaning and several words that derive from the root. Younger students can write the word on one side and its meaning on the other, older students can include the example words as well, or you can come up with your own requirements. There are no lessons, study plans or schedules, making this easily the most flexible vocabulary course we carry.
Some improvements were made between Books I and II: Book II features more readable type, a pronunciation guide for every word, and Greek words in Greek as well as the English transliteration. The format remains the same. There are pre-made cards for both volumes, useful if you plan to use this with older kids and don't have a lot of time. In this case, just have them memorize the information on both sides of each card. While still useful, however, this kind of defeats the purpose of the course, as the making of flashcards helps kids internalize the information further.
Our Honest Opinion:
There are no bells and whistles here. Students learn vocabulary the old fashioned way, through lots and lots of memorization and drill. But unlike vocabulary courses that simply offer lists of words for students to remember, English from the Roots Up presents kids with the building blocks from which a vast number of words are made, thus expanding not only their actual vocabularies, but also their potential vocabularies. It's been proven time and again that simple memorization is the best way to acquire and retain facts, and these books certainly utilize that method to great effect. This isn't sufficient as a language course or introduction to classical languages, but it is an excellent foundation on which to build more thorough knowledge of our own language.
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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