Vocabulary Curriculum

A lot of vocabulary instruction is hidden away within larger language arts programs. While the integrated approach works very well for some students, for others it's too vague, too confusing, or just not focused enough. For those students (or parents, for that matter), there's a growing selection of books designed specifically to help them build stronger and more versatile vocabularies; the best ones even prepare students to grow their word-knowledge themselves.

Having a large vocabulary isn't just important so students can show off (it isn't really important for that purpose at all). Because all learning is transmitted through the use of language, understanding as much of your native tongue as possible is essential if you expect or want to get a broad, well-rounded education.

The bulk of a child's vocabulary is acquired through conversation and osmosis (seeing street signs, reading books, watching the news, etc.), but plenty of people have large vocabularies yet can't use them well. Understanding how words are formed, what they mean, their history, and the effect other languages have had on them helps kids (and adults) know how to use words properly in writing and conversation, and how to add to the number of words with which they're familiar.

There isn't really a right or wrong way to teach vocabulary, and honestly for the most part we think simply having your kids read plenty during and outside of school hours is a fine way to grow their word-hoards (thank you for your awesome word play, Anglo-Saxons). Most of these programs are meant to be supplemental in nature, not to take up too much time or to be full-fledged subjects in their own right; we can only urge you to take the nurture of your kids' vocabularies seriously since they're the doors through which they'll gain most of their knowledge and learning.

Here is a quick summary of the Vocabulary curricula we offer, in alphabetical order:

A Beka Vocabulary Grades K-12

If you want a student-directed textbook course,A Beka Spelling & Vocabulary is solid. Each worktext includes a year's worth of lessons with easy-to-follow instructions and thorough exercises. This is more of a spelling course, but there's plenty of vocabulary work, too.

American Language Series Grades K-1

In Guyla Nelson's American Language Series, all the language arts (vocabulary, spelling, phonics, writing, handwriting) are addressed together, with no specific place reserved for vocabulary. The idea is that kids will be better communicators if they understand the language as a whole.

BJU Vocabulary Grades 7-12

For an excellent traditional textbook approach, BJU Vocabulary for middle and high school students is challenging, in-depth, and roots-oriented in its approach to vocabulary instruction; some think it's even more challenging than Vocabulary from Classical Roots.

English from the Roots UP Grades 2-12

Some programs start with the Classical Latin and Greek roots of English words: English from the Roots Up is a classic of this kind, guiding students through flashcard creation and memorization, with Greek and Latin roots on one side, and their English translations on the other.

EPS Analogies Grades K-12

The three EPS Analogies series aren't really vocabulary courses at all, instead teaching critical and associative thinking, but (especially in the later books) new words are consistently introduced and explained, and connections between words is a major focus.

Evan-Moor Vocabulary Grades PreK-6

Because poor communication skills are often directly linked to poor reading skills, Evan-Moor has shaped their family of vocabulary supplements to increase students' reading and comprehension skills. These are easy-to-use for remedial or supplemental work, and are content-heavy.

Horizons Spelling & Vocabulary Grades 1-3

Horizons Spelling & Vocabulary emphasizes spelling rather than vocabulary, but there are plenty of new words introduced in each lesson. Daily lessons should take no more than 15-20 minutes. The goal of the course is to produce students able to use these basic skills to write well.

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Jensen's Vocabulary Grades 7-9

Jensen's Vocabulary focuses on Latin and Greek root words. Students aren't given or encouraged to use a dictionary. Instead they're given lists of root words, suffixes, and prefixes, and must decipher meanings of words from there. It's a challenging course for the average student, and not exciting to look at, but it offers far more vocabulary building for a lower price than anything else we offer.

Megawords Grades 4-10

Megawords is slightly more advanced than Wordly Wise 3000, focuses on multisyllabic words, and places special emphasis on students' ability to use words properly in writing. The teacher guides provide the authors' philosophy of vocabulary instruction, as well as complete lesson plans.

Spectrum Spelling & Vocabulary Grades 1-6

The remedial and test-prep series Spectrum Spelling & Vocabulary can help fill in gaps, but shouldn't be used onits own. Exercises are self-explanatory, and take a scattershot approach rather than moving intuitively from point to point.

Vocabulary from Classical Roots Grades 4-11

For more advanced students, Vocabulary from Classical Roots is exactly what it sounds like, and is arguably the most advanced vocabulary curriculum we carry. Kids go from learning "stationary" to "impecunious," all the while learning the etymology and usage of each word.

Word Roots Grades 3-12

Word Roots introduces students to the origins of English words from a Latin perspective. This series is useful both for developing your kids' understanding of English vocabulary, as well as for prepping them for in-depth Latin study later on.

Wordly Wise 3000 Vocabulary Grades K-12

The most popular of all our vocabulary programs are those from EPS. Wordly Wise 3000 presents the most commonly encountered words for all grades in a workbook format that is easy to navigate, easy to use, fun for students, and headache-free for parents and teachers.

Wordly Wise Vocabulary Grades 2-12

This program preceded the more popular Wordly Wise 3000, and paved the way for the easy-to-use and fun workbook approach that its successor mastered. Exercises are built around lists of words to learn, and include many types of exercises and periodic crossword puzzles.

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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