Have you had success in teaching grammar in your homeschool? Our latest TOS Crew review item, Analytical Grammar (published by Analytical Grammar), gives you the tools to teach grammar methodically and clearly in your homeschool, and is designed for students in grades 6-12. (Analytical Grammar also publishes Junior Analytical Grammar for grades 4-5, as well as other curricula.)
Grammar can be a challenging subject to teach. It is not extremely tangible and can seem very theoretical at first, until your child begins to grasp the meaning of the terminology. In fact, it can almost seem like a foreign language when the student begins. The developers of Analytical Grammar, author Robin Finley and contributing author Erin Karl, have created a precise and systematic way to teach grammar to students that is comparable to learning the multiplication tables. One starts with the simplest information, learns it thoroughly, and builds on that knowledge step by step, until complete understanding is reached. The subtitle of this series is, “A systematic approach to language mastery.” The course definitely fulfills that description!
We were quite fortunate to be selected to review Analytical Grammar, a two-book set that includes the Analytical Grammar Teacher Book and the Analytical Grammar Student Book. We also received the Analytical Grammar Companion DVDs which go with the Analytical Grammar lessons.
What is included in this curriculum?
The Analytical Grammar is an immensely practical curriculum which you can teach in a number of different ways. You can either complete the entire book (35 lessons) in one year, if you have an older student. Or, you can teach the course over a three-year period. If you choose to go that route, you teach the first ten units over a ten-week span, and then you’re finished with grammar for the year, except for minor review work every two weeks or so! The following year, you follow the same process with units 11-17, and in the third year, with units 18-34 (which is a longer teaching period). By the time all these units have been completed, your student will have a thorough and complete understanding of grammar, punctuation and even diagramming!
I’d like to share some of the specifics in each of the grammar products we used with this course.
- First: The Analytical Grammar Student Book. This Student Book contains every lesson you need for a thorough and complete grammar course, whether you take the three-year route or the one-year. Each lesson starts with a reference page that teaches the grammar component of each unit. Then, there are 3-4 exercises followed by a unit test. At over an inch thick each, these books have a LOT of lessons! One of the many neat things about Analytical Grammar is that while the student is completing the lessons, he’s also creating a reference book that he can use for years to come, even in college!
- Second: The Analytical Grammar Teacher Book. This teacher’s manual contains instructions for the different yearly schedules I mentioned above, as well as suggestions for how to assign grammar lessons each week. Robin Finley also includes directions for scoring, which can be a bit challenging at first, since the teacher is eventually scoring diagrammed sentences! She provides an overview of each of the first ten units. Shortcuts for experienced students are also provided. The Teacher Book then has exactly the pages that the Analytical Grammar Student Book…..except the Teacher Book has the answers to all the exercise sheets and tests, with the grammar abbreviations marked above each word. It also has all the diagrammed sentences in each exercise.
- Third: The Analytical Grammar Companion DVD Set. This 4-DVD set is beautifully filmed and features Robin Finley and Erin Karl (who, in addition to being excellent grammar teachers, are also the authors of this series AND mother and daughter). The DVDs contain filmed lessons for each unit in the curriculum. They teach the overview of each unit and assist the student in completing the exercises in the first lesson of the units. While you can actually teach the Analytical Grammar curriculum without the DVDs, I think they are a wonderful addition and the teaching clarity and methods of Finley and Karl make the lessons even more interesting (not to mention easier for the student to grasp).
How we used it:
During the review period, Jackson (my twelve-year-old) and I worked on the lessons from Unit 1 through Unit 5. This covered the following parts of speech:
- Nouns, articles and adjectives
- Prepositional phrases
- Subject & verb
We started each unit by watching the unit DVD lesson. Then, I would sit with Jackson while he completed the first lesson. Because we’d never approached grammar in this fashion before, he generally had a good number of questions on those first lessons. For the remaining lessons in each unit, he completed them on his own (for the most part). Each unit concludes with a test which shows whether or not the student has achieved mastery of the lessons.
The course starts with some basics: nouns, articles and adjectives. The student is given a page of sentences and, working sentence by sentence, he first marks the nouns. He learns that with every noun you must have an article, so then he marks the articles. Then he looks to discover if there are any adjectives modifying the nouns, and marks them.
From here, the course progresses. Parts of speech are added to this process, and the act of repeating the marking in each sentence over and over solidifies the grammar in the student’s head. When a certain level of mastery is achieved, diagramming is introduced. And the student doesn’t have to diagram EVERYTHING at the beginning; he starts with just a few things that he’s learned and goes from there. Analytical Grammar truly does build grammar mastery solidly, step by step.
We REALLY liked the DVD lessons. Both Finley and Karl are first-rate teachers who are quite accomplished in making grammar concepts perfectly clear and understandable. They teach the overall concepts of each unit, then walk the students through the first lessons. We started each unit by watching the unit DVD lesson. While I could have taught the initial lessons myself using the Teacher Book, I loved being able to use the DVDs. I think this made the lessons much more interesting than I could have made them. And Jackson really liked the teachers.
When we began Analytical Grammar, Jackson had a good grasp of English parts of speech. He understood how to correctly write and speak. But, I know that he has learned a LOT by doing this course. Some of it was very challenging at first, like when we began diagramming sentences. He had never done that in a language arts course before! This made me think of the beginning weeks of learning a foreign language. I’ve noticed with myself in that process, that the first six weeks tend to be difficult and sometimes incomprehensible. But for me, once those six weeks are over, it’s as though a light bulb goes on…..suddenly I get it! I think that for us, Analytical Grammar was sort of the same way. We had to learn the process, the methodology, the terminology. But once we’d mastered that, THEN things moved rather smoothly! It just required that we take our time with the hard parts, working on them slowly, and reinforcing the lessons in each unit. As we continued with the lessons, the difficult parts became much simpler for him to understand. The lessons move slowly but surely along, and so much ground is covered in the process!
If you are looking for a complete and thorough grammar curriculum that will cover a lot of ground, Analytical Grammar may be just what you’re looking for! If you have a younger student, you’ll be required to spend more time with them, helping them learn the ways and means of this new “language”; but if you have high schoolers you’ll probably be able to let them work on the lessons by themselves. Personally, I loved the comprehensive, detailed lessons and units. The lessons are challenging, but as the students continue to work on them, they will really grow in their abilities and skills. I love that every single part of speech, punctuation and even common errors are covered in Analytical Grammar. I believe that this course can fully equip a student with the understanding not only of how English grammar works, but why it works the way it does. Sometimes we can speak with excellent grammar; but do we know why the language works the way it does? If we study grammar with the Analytical Grammar course, we certainly will!
The Analytical Grammar Teacher Book and the Analytical Grammar Student Book are both available from Analytical Grammar; they are sold as a set for $94.95. The Analytical Grammar Companion DVD Set is also available from Analytical Grammar for $39.95.