Roughly 60% of English words derive from Latin or Greek roots. While this course won't teach your kids Classical languages, it will introduce them to the etymological background of many words in their own. By demonstrating the origins of much of our language, Vocabulary from Classical Roots not only helps students broaden their own vocabulary, it provides them with tools for understanding similar words they may encounter later, thereby improving reading efficiency and comprehension and writing skills.
How Do These Work?
There are eight levels for grades 4-11 consisting of one consumable student workbook and a teacher's guide/answer key for each level. (Test books are also available from the publisher, but are not necessary.) Teacher's guides include answers to all exercises as well as suggestions for presentation of the material and ideas for further exercises (some of them oral rather than written). Every level includes 16 lessons which will typically each take one week to complete if you plan on assigning all the exercises, though you could easily take longer.
Lessons are centered around themes like "animals" or "motion" or "sports,"and begin with a list of fifteen words that will be examined in-depth (eight words in the three lower levels). Next, each word appears in dictionary format, with pronunciation guide, usage and definition. Then come the exercises, which range from fill-in-the-blank to true/false to simple identification. The exercises put each word in context and help kids understand how they might use the same words in sentences of their own; while there is a theoretical aspect to the course, it focuses on practicality.
These aren't incredibly exciting texts—mostly just text with the occasional small black and white drawing—and the exercises aren't "engaging"in the sense that students interact with cute little characters or anything like that. (Of course, by 4th grade most kids are probably over that anyway.) But the amount of information students are required to process is pretty phenomenal. While 8-15 words per lesson might not sound like a lot, these aren't easy words. In the 4th grade level they encounter words like "stationary"and "classification,"and by 11th grade they're studying words like "impecunious"and "casuistry."
Because most education centers around reading, it is vital that students have a large working vocabulary. Other programs might have more words for students to memorize, but few so thoroughly cement each one in kids' memories by examining their etymological background. This approach also ensures that, when words with similar roots are discovered, students will be able to decode the new words instead of having to always find a dictionary to look them up. This isn't a supplement or substitute for Greek and Latin study, but it is an excellent tool to give your kids a better understanding of the English 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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