Over twenty years ago, and after my first private school had been up and running for a few years, I introduced Latin for my seventh and eighth-grade students. I knew the other surrounding Christian schools taught Latin to their junior high students and I thought if it was good enough for their students then why not mine. Latin is a base for many of our words as well as many other languages.
After one year, I was having second and third thoughts about my following the herd decision. I knew Latin formed the base for many English words, but the time and effort being put into learning Latin seemed out of proportion to supporting our student’s education. About this time I found a curriculum where I did not have to teach Latin in such detail. The more I looked at it and how we as a school would incorporate it into our unique personalized education model, the more I liked it for its potential for my future high school students.
The program is English from the Roots Up (ERU) by Joegil Lundquist and published by Literacy Unlimited.
ERU provides a simple way for students in second through twelfth grades to memorize Latin and Greek words that form a basis for many of our words in English. The program consists of two volumes, one and two, each volume containing 100 Latin and Greek words. While students in the earlier grades are able to successfully learn the words in this program, from my experience, it is best used in the grades of ten, eleven and twelve.
To use ERU, my students would outline 3x5 cards in red for Latin words and green for Greek words. Within the colored outline, each student would write the word to be learned. On the back of the card, each student would write the definition of the word at the top and three of the five words derived from the new word on the card. Each student had the assignment of memorizing the word, its meaning and the three derivative words they chose.
After four words were memorized, students would review the previous words memorized and one derivative every other assignment time.
The ERU program allowed me to provide an instructional method with an emphasis on student learning where the student has to prove to his teacher he has learned the material or met the goal through his work and his learning, not a teacher’s instruction.
Sometimes students would have trouble reviewing all the words. At that point, I would have them go back to where the student was successful in memorizing the words. Usually back to thirty words or so.
Students would eventually memorize the 100 Latin and Greek words, the definitions, and an English word derived from the Latin or Greek base.
There are many teachers who do not expect their students to memorize, saying it creates students who do not like learning. And even some teachers who say most students cannot memorize. But of course, that is not true. Just like anything else, memorizing is a skill to be taught and used.
Memorization of basic facts and information allows students to develop building blocks for future learning. The early years of education should be spent on rote learning required for advanced skills. Too often in Arizona, students are still working on basic skills in math, reading, and writing in the later grades because of inadequate instruction in the earlier grades.
The skills learned in English from the Roots Up were consistently cited by our graduates as being very helpful in their college classes.
English from the Roots Upis an excellent support for students to help them on the path to understanding and using the English language.
I am Tim Ihms, the founder, head master, instructor, book keeper, and part time custodian at New Park Street Christian Academy. The blogs on this page are written for the parents of New Park Street students and for those who may be interested in sending their child to the school some day.