Sunday, April 26, 2015

Weekly Resource: Primary Language Lessons

This week I am going to chat about a program we have actually used - SHOCKER!  Actually, that's another reason I went on hiatus with blogging.  I felt a bit fake because so many of the resources I have found I don't actually use - I just collect ideas and haven't really been putting them into action.  But, we have used Primary Language Lessons with my 2nd grader (8 yo).  I love English Lessons Through Literature and we will return to it next year, but I started it too early.  My 8 yo was not prepared for longer copywork and I wasn't ready to introduce diagramming to him yet.  So, this was our "break year" in that respect.

Primary Language Lessons has been gentle but we have been listening to (and maybe memorizing) the English grammar memory work with CC so I feel like he's still gotten some of the definitions, etc. I just printed and used the download from google books and halfway through the year found a hardback version at Half Price Books (I picked up Intermediate Language Lessons as well). There are workbooks available (don't know about her family situation) but I just had my son write his work in  a regular composition book.  That has worked for us.

The lessons are picture (tell what's happening in the picture - but it's not a "famous" work - she uses more ordinary scenes), conversation, letter writing, simple fill in the blank grammar and poetry memorization.  My son was always excited about the conversation lesson because then he felt like he wasn't even doing work.  I did at least make him answer in complete sentences.  Some of the subjects I altered a little because us city folk don't know much about some of the topics she addresses (but we are trying to be more observant).  The letters sometimes put him in fits - he could do them just fine but they upset him because he had to work a little bit.  Typically I had him narrate the letter to me while I wrote it down and then he did it as copywork.  He is getting closer to writing things like that on his own, but if I write it and tell him he has a time limit for copywork I will get a more thoughtful answer than if I let him do it on his own.  We totally failed with the memory selections.  They are good ones to memorize but I didn't use them to their full advantage.  I had him work on the first stanza a little bit and then used them more for copywork.  For the most part I let him do the grammar orally and just write a few of the sentences in a lesson.  I was aiming at neat and accurate more than sloppy and careless.

I do think that it is a good gentle introduction and I know we didn't use it to its full potential but for just the cost of a composition book this program has a lot to offer.  I realize now that we should have been doing more copywork from his regular readings (we did do more of that in the fall - before the baby).  That is one thing I like about English Lesson Through Literature is that all of the sentence work is from good literature.

I did also try to do this in concert with Memoria Press's Introduction to Composition guide.  We stopped using the guide half way through.  These guides select passages from every few chapters of the assigned book (which we did use for a while).  Each lesson provides oral questions to spur conversation about the passage and from there the student produces a summary of the passage (I think they do this in a classroom setting at their school and work together towards one summary passage as a class).  My son read the whole section to himself, then read the selected passage (normally 2 or 3 pages) aloud to me, then we would either answer the question MP provided or I'd have him narrate it.  Often I wrote this out for him and then he did it as copywork.  He balked at writing them - but he did do it. The guides also have room for dictation but we took our dictation from other sources - not his literature.

I guess in the end we used three different things for our "language arts" this year.  Primary Language Lessons was our daily practice, MP's Composition provided our literature readings and narrations (sometimes written) and CC gave us our "memory work" for grammar definitions (honestly we just discussed some of the concepts out loud we didn't practice any of them).  Next year, he will be ready to do book 3 of English Lessons Through Literature and we will do CC Cycle 1 memory work (I think prepositions is a primary focus next year).  I still might have him read the selections from Memoria Press's literature on his own because I will probably read the English Lessons' books aloud. We'll see though.

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