English Lessons Through Literature Secular Level D: Discerning
Reviews and expands parts of speech, parts of a sentence, types of sentences, and diagramming. Covers appositives, compound and complex sentences, outlines, comparatives and superlatives, phrases and clauses. Focus is on descriptive writing with students completing projects in condensed, amplified, point of view, slant, historical, and scientific narratives. Literary analysis is introduced.
Level 4/Discerning Literature List: Book of Dragons, Black Beauty, Ozma of Oz, Reluctant Dragon (Dream Days), Heidi, Tanglewood Tales. Fables are African folk tales from West African Folk Tales (Barker) and South African Folk Tales (Honey).545 pgs, pb.
English Lessons Through Literature is a complete language arts program for elementary and middle school students. Each level has a textbook and an optional workbook which can be purchased separately.
What's different about English Lessons Through Literature?
- Short, three day per week lessons keep language arts from taking all of your time.
- Students interact with books, not just passages from books.
- Writing is taught through imitation.
- Spelling is taught through prepared dictation.
- Copywork is included from the literature, maxims, and poetry.
- Diagramming sentences is used as an exercise to both demonstrate understanding of the material and to constantly review what has been learned.
- Students rewrite sentences from the stories, changing the sentences through grammatical changes. This old exercise from Erasmus teaches students to say the same thing in many different ways.
- Students write outlines and write papers from their outlines, just as Benjamin Franklin taught himself to write.
In a typical ELTL lesson:
- Students listen or read the literature, depending upon their age.
- A brief lesson explores a grammatical concept. Examples are taken from the literature.
- In levels 3 and up, there's a short writing exercise. The student might analyze words from the new narration story, change a sentence from the story, or imitate a descriptive paragraph.
- Students listen or read the poem and a short story; the stories come from various world traditions.
- The lesson ends with a short exercise and copywork. The exercise sentences are also from the literature.
- Once per week, there is either a written narration or a picture study.
About the Levels
Here is a brief description of each level. The list has a recommended grade range for each book; we follow a "better late than early" philosophy in our household, so we stay at the upper end of the grade range and start Level A in 2nd grade.
English Lessons Through Literature is a secular language arts series. The general approach and most of the content is the same as a previous edition; the only difference is that any faith-based content has been removed. This makes this secular version somewhat unique since most of the Charlotte Mason language arts programs have faith-based content.
The seven levels (Aspiring, Blossoming, Cultivating, Discerning, Enlightening, Flourishing, and Growing) can be used for grades 1 through 8. The author recommends starting Aspiring in 2nd grade but 1st is also an option. The Volumes are designed for the teacher and provide three lessons per week for 36 weeks (108 lessons per level). Each lesson follows a similar format. In each level, whole books are provided as read-alouds, with chapters to be read daily as the first lesson item. Fables, stories, excerpts, and poetry are also regularly used. Occasionally, the student is asked to think about something from the reading, but the author avoids comprehension questions. The instructional nugget is next and "nugget" does seem like the best description particularly in Aspiring/Blossoming. In the upper levels, the "nugget" is something more like a "chunk."
Systematic grammar instruction starts in Blossoming and is pretty impressive, covering everything from punctuation to parts of speech to types of sentences and includes diagramming beginning in Cultivating. In fact, in Blossoming and up, the lesson title reflects the grammar covered (i.e. #38 in Blossoming is titled State of Being Verbs; Review: Pronouns) leaving no doubts about the general grammatical scope and sequence. In Discerning & Enlightening there is an appendix that provides additional writing lessons for older students. The appendices in each Volume include valuable information – memory work lists, a segment on the correct use of words, diagramming references, and sometimes literature passages as well as additional writing lessons and writing/editing protocol in the upper levels. The author also encourages the use of a personal spelling journal.
Writing instruction incorporates the classical progymnasmata (a bit unusual for a Charlotte Mason program). Aspiring through Flourishing focuses on fables and narrative while Growing explores chreia and maxim.
Workbooks are available for Aspiring through Flourishing and provide all the exercises and copywork. Though technically optional, they are a major time-saver for the teacher. In the lower levels (Aspiring through Discerning) they are available in several handwriting styles (Manuscript, Slant Cursive, Vertical Cursive, Basic Italic, and Cursive Italic). In the Enlightening and Flourishing levels, workbooks are provided in a print font.
There is very little teacher prep in this series. You will want/need to get a copy of the read-aloud books and make a copywork master (if not using the Workbooks), That’s about it! The daily lessons are pick-up-and-go. Full-color versions of the picture studies (black and white in the volumes) are available on the author’s website, so you may want to provide access to those just to make the whole study more enjoyable for both of you. Your student will ultimately be compiling a notebook to include copywork, definitions, exercise. Although prep is minimal with these courses, the daily lessons are based on teacher-student interaction.
You can probably tell that I’m enthusiastic about this series. It’s well-constructed, easy-to-use, has a strong emphasis on literature plus an equally strong emphasis on systematic grammar and mechanics as well as writing skills. You only need to add phonics/reading instruction and perhaps a systematic spelling to have a well-rounded approach to English and Language Arts. The author's series Reading Lessons Through Literature is an excellent complement providing, phonics, spelling, and reading. ~ Janice
"Through literature" is the operative phrase in this series. It is what you would expect, after all, of a series incorporating a Charlotte Mason approach to language arts skills. Together the teacher and student travel through literature - poetry, well-loved books, fables, and stories. You pause along the way, of course, taking time to appreciate the story and learn the grammatical structure of the English language, giving the student opportunity through copywork and some narration to become immersed in quality writing models. Picture studies complement the literature and provide the means for students to put their thoughts into words and develop their observation skills. Just for good measure, the author has included some memory work grammatical lists and definitions. Taken altogether, the result is an easy-to-use, holistic approach to English that is thoroughly consistent with Charlotte Mason, and yet meatier than most programs with a similar bent. It also has a more updated "feel" than many CM language programs even though many of the literature selections are "timeless" (i.e. a little old-fashioned).
English Lessons Through Literature is in its second version. The original (Levels 1-5) is now out of print, and has been replaced by a secular version (Aspiring, Blossoming, Cultivating, Discerning, Enlightening, Flourishing, and Growing). The general approach and most of the content is the same; the only difference is that any faith-based content has been removed in the second version. This means that some exercises/activities have been tweaked and a few changes have been made in the Literature selections. But, all-in-all, the two are comparable in terms of course content and rigor. And, it makes this new secular version somewhat unique since most Charlotte Mason language arts programs have faith-based content.
Language arts programs listed in this section cover most areas of language arts (reading/literature, writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting) in one curriculum, although some skill areas may be covered with less intensity than a focused, stand-alone course.
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