A couple of years ago I reviewed the Logic of English Essentials Complete Set. In the intervening time, Logic of English has published Essentials 2nd Edition. The new edition has been expanded, and there is so much new material included that it has been split into 2 volumes. It looks like there is double the information, as the books are the same size. WOW! Volume 2 has yet to be published, but Volume 1 has enough material to cover a full semester if following a general schedule of one lesson a week.
Members of the TOS Review Crew received a mix of totally new complete Essentials sets ( as well as the Foundations sets, which are for the younger learner) for those who have never reviewed it before, and an upgrade set that includes the new Teacher Manual, Student Workbook. Because we had previously reviewed, we were sent the Upgrade set.
The new Teacher's manual isn't just colorful on the outside, it's colorful on the inside. There are now three levels of teaching, and they are color coded, so that you can easily skip the information that isn't necessary for the level at which your student is learning.
Note: the student workbook is not "fun and games" colorful, and remains basic black and white. I didn't see too many changes, other than added and expanded material to coordinate with the extra material in the teacher's manual. No reason to change something that is working just fine. It also helps to ensure that an older student doesn't feel that they are being given material that is too young for them. :) However, this doesn't mean that there aren't fun and games included. Each week's lesson incorporates games using the various card sets included, as well as a number of games printed in the workbook.
Back to the Teacher's Manual...
Each Lesson starts with an "index card" on the printed page with an overview of what is included in the lesson for each level, which makes it easy to pull together all the materials required. If you'll notice from the image of the Complete Set (up above), and as I mentioned, there *are* a number of card sets used with this program, so having the information laid out at the beginning of the chapter is very helpful. :)
One of the new features in the second edition is the inclusion of more vocabulary, and leveled spelling lists. Level Band C vocabulary include Greek and Latin roots, which interestingly enough seems to be one of my 8 year old's favorite parts of the program. He has enjoyed decoding the different parts of words, seeing how suffixes and prefixes can change the root meaning.
The lessons are also now broken down into "Days" which makes it easier to follow. I appreciate the new format, which solved one of my problems in the first edition of simpler phonograms being initially "introduced" but not reinforced before giving a "spelling test." With the new format, the test doesn't come until Day 5, while the spelling words are introduced on Day 2 with a "Spelling Analysis." The Spelling Analysis goes over each word, with the teacher introducing the word, using it in a contextual sentence, and having the student repeat the word. They then break it down into its separate sounds, with the teacher giving clues when there are ambiguous sounds (which could be spelled a number of ways). Throughout the week all of the phonograms are reviewed (often in game or flashcard format), with special emphasis given to those that are trickier, but now the student doesn't go into the test as "blind" as before.
The manual is still very scripted, with precise directions on how to teach the various phonograms and spelling rules, as well as how to give the above-mentioned clues. The worksheets in the students book are also clearly labeled to help make sure that each one is completed at the correct time.
A couple more "notes"
The program does seem a little complex, and it most definitely isn't "grab-and-go" material. It is most certainly teacher-led, and not "independent" learning. Because of the volume of material, and the multiple levels included, the information may seem a little overwhelming to begin with, but it gets easier after the first week or two.
Because my son is a prolific reader, and apparently a natural speller like his siblings, we used a bit of a mash-up of levels for him. Some of the more complex words include some discussion that is a little long for him to follow, so I simplify that, but keep to the lists, making it work for us.
I did run into something else that gave me pause. There are some unusual words used for simple grammar. For example, at the beginning, on the level C list, "abstract" was listed as a noun, even though it is more commonly used as an adjective. This seemed odd to me, and is an example of where I chose to simplify for my 8 year old, but makes perfect sense for an older student, who might hear the term in their science or math class.
All in all, this revamped edition is very thorough and methodical, structured to help the instructor cover the material on a specific schedule, for a variety of ages and abilities. Although I don't have children who face difficulty with spelling, I imagine that this method would be one that would help those with difficulties gain solid success reading, writing, and understanding the written word.
Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty
- Company: Logic of English
- Product: Essentials 2nd Edition
- Ages: 8-adult
- $198 Essentials 2nd Edition Complete Set Volume 1
- $93 Essentials Upgrade Set Volume 1
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