For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spelling Love - The Logic of English a Review

My boys hate writing, and though they speak well and read well, their spelling was left wanting. That is until now. About three months ago I came across The Logic of English and fell in love with it.

The boys learned how to read very naturally, unfortunately the spelling did not follow as naturally. My oldest has great vocabulary and speech pattern, but do not ask him to write anything for you, he will cringe at the thought. In the span of a few months his attitude has totally changed towards writing. It is still not his favorite thing to do, but he does not cringe at it as much anymore.

I had totally given up any writing and spelling instruction at the beginning of our homeschool. I focused on grammar with a bit of punctuation teaching, as taught in First Language Lessons. I was contemplating Phonetic Zoo because of its auditory component but the price kept being an impediment. Then came the exposure to The Logic of English.

What attracted me about the Logic of English was its comprehensiveness and its appeal to logic and order. I watched the videos put up on You Tube by the author on how English, though a tough language to learn, because of all its variants in sounds, has some logic to it and patterns that can be learned. I loved that there was hope in making sense of all the seemingly never-ending exceptions and choices of spelling for all the different sounds in English. I am a French speaker by birth and English, being my second-language, has always been perplexing to me. I was excited at the idea of all of it finally making sense.

So I gladly started the Essentials curriculum with the boys, and after 2 months, the boys loved spelling, and we had developed a system to writing words. The task of spelling words was not a daunting one anymore. As for me, I have started to gain an understanding of the whole vowel and consonant sound patterns of English. So  much of spelling and pronunciation has become much more logical, and a successful self-discovery process as opposed to "Dear, how do you say this or spell this again?" I can now confidently work the boys through the process of figuring out how to spell a word when they ask.

So how does The Logic of English Essentials Curriculum work?

The curriculum comes with:
  • a set of phonogram cards
  • teacher manual (available as a PDF also)
  • student workbook (available as a PDF also)
  • extra phonogram cards for games
  • spelling rules cards
  • grammar cards
  • spelling journal (also available as a PDF)
  • Game Book ((also available as a PDF)
The Logic of English seeks to explain to us why English words are spelled the way the are, and why they are read the way they are. Knowing why often helps with retaining rules.  It is divided into 40 lessons. Each lessons has three parts: 
  • Phonogram, sound and spelling rule study
  • Spelling dictation and analysis
  • Grammar (noun, adjectives, verbs), dictation, composition (capitalization, possessive, fragment), and vocabulary (prefixes, suffixes)
I like how the program integrates several branches of language arts together, as these are very connected to one another. It reveals the coherence within the language which in turn helps with retention.

When a phonogram is introduced it is sounded out (if you are not sure you can look at the back of the card or check on Denise Elde's many you tube videos.). Then she proceeds to explain when that sound is used. When confronted with a phonogram that has many sounds, she goes into details on how to recognize when to use which spelling. 

I have to say though, there is still going to be some memorization to be done, as English is not squarely tight where every single words fit in nicely within a rule, but when most of it is understood and all the guessing work is taken out, one can concentrate on the ones that we really need to put to memory. This is where the spelling journal comes handy, as it allows for the students to record those words that need to be memorized.

One element of the curriculum that is very attractive and effective is the game component. Although I only had one set of phonogram cards, I was able to play a few of the games that she suggests, and the boys tremendously enjoyed

Playing phonogram Bingo

Playing Phonogram Baseball (one of their favorite)

I can not stop speaking highly of this curriculum. I have been using The Essentials program with both my boys and loving the result. It is not necessarily an easy curriculum but certainly an in depth, thorough Language Arts program. If your kids have trouble reading or need improvement The Logic of English will be a saver.

The only con of this program is that it demands for the teacher to be involved. It is not an independent kind of curriculum. You get to set your pace and you have a review every 5 lessons.

Essentials does require a knowledge of the basic 26 alphabet phonograms, as well as a decent phonemic awareness including consonant blends. My boys knew the basic phonograms but their phonemic awareness was not that great. Thankfully, Denise does take the time at the beginning to review those, and that helped get the boys up to speed.

Denise just released a program for beginner, focusing precisely on those basic phonograms, called Foundations, and also a phonogram app. Make sure to check these out.

One other thing to check out would be the book on The Logic of English that Denise wrote to explain how English works, called Uncovering the Logic of English. It covers topics such as: the spelling of 98% of English words, how to add suffixes to any English words, the importance of roots, and deals with the difficulty of English dialects. I am looking forward to getting my own copy of it.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the Essentials curriculum in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

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