Curriculum Review: Primary and Intermediate Language Lessons Workbooks by Cynthia Albright

Primary Language Lessons and Intermediate Language Lessons were books written in the 1900s by Emma Serl to teach English language skills, and are often used by Charlotte Mason style homeschoolers.

The reviewers at Sandbox to Socrates have had the opportunity to use Primary Language Lessons and Intermediate Language Lessons workbooks created from these original texts. These workbooks have updated language, and an easier-to-use format than the original books.

See what our reviewers had to say!

Caitilin – “I have been familiar with and a big fan of Intermediate Language Lessons for at least five years. Imagine my pleasure upon receiving this new workbook…” click here for full review.

Tammy – “My sixth-grade son had just finished two semesters of rigorous writing and grammar study, but I didn’t want him to lose the knowledge…” click here for full review.

Briana – “My children are wonderful writers, and I fully give credit to Emma Serl’s books…” click here for full review.

Emma – “We had already been using the original book, so the material wasn’t new to us, but I have loved having the glossary, vocabulary section, teacher helps, resource list and updated lessons…” click here for full review.

Amy D“I have been intrigued by Emma Serl’s Primary Language Lessons for quite some time. Originally published in 1911, Primary Language Lessons incorporates poetry, memorization, narration, dictation, grammar, composition, and picture study…” click here for full review.

Amy R – “I love Intermediate Language Lessons by Emma Serl. I used it with my older children so I know how gentle, thorough, and effective this book can be…” click here for full review.

Review: Intermediate Language Lessons Level 3/Grade 6, by Tammy

 

My sixth-grade son had just finished two semesters of rigorous writing and grammar study, but I didn’t want him to lose the knowledge he’d gained over the summer. Intermediate Language Lessons Level 3 by Emma Serl seemed like a good way to review without feeling like hard work. Grounded in the Charlotte Mason method of teaching, ILL is gentle, yet thorough, instruction in writing and grammar. Cynthia Albright has reformatted ILL into a printable workbook for the child to write in, instead of copying the entire lesson by hand. For my pencil-phobic boy, this was a godsend.

Intermediate Language Lessons includes nature study, poetry, vocabulary, art study, grammar and usage lessons, and more. The lessons are short but effective. Mrs. Albright has included lined pages to be printed for dictation exercises. Because ILL was originally  printed in the Victorian era, Mrs. Albright has updated the postal codes and state abbreviations in the pertinent places. The one drawback, from my point of view, is that there is no teacher instruction available from the original printing. Mrs. Albright indicates that she is working on one (and has written teacher’s guides for Levels One and Two). When the teacher’s guide for Level 3 is finished, I will gladly buy it.

Like many boys, my son is not a fan of writing. The PDF format is ideal for him because we can print what’s needed – i.e. the dictation pages – and use the other pages on our iPad using the Notability app*. The app allows him to write on the “page” and delete errors, and then leave it for Mom to check. This saves on printer paper and ink, erasers, and frustration.

ILL Part 3 on iPad

Pros:

  • Charlotte Mason method – narration, copywork, dictation, grammar
  • PDF – print all at once or as needed
  • Multi-pronged approach to language arts – nature/art study, grammar, writing

Cons:

  • No teacher guide/answer key for Level 3 — if the parent isn’t familiar with CM-type instruction, this program is more difficult to implement (not impossible; just more difficult)
  • Vintage pictures – my ultra-modern son had to learn to look past the pictures

Verdict: If your heart is drawn to the gentle yet thorough instruction of the Charlotte Mason method, I highly recommend Intermediate Language Lessons Level 3 for sixth grade. This PDF program will be a blessing to your homeschool.

*There are other apps that allow you to annotate a PDF on the iPad. Notability is the one I’m most familiar with.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Tammy lives in the desert southwest where antelope play in her front yard, grazing among the rattlers and scorpions. She enjoys reading, scrapbooking, and crochet. She currently  homeschools one son.

Review: Primary Language Lessons, Part 2, by Amy D.

 

I have been intrigued by Emma Serl’s Primary Language Lessons for quite some time. Originally published in 1911, Primary Language Lessons incorporates poetry, memorization, narration, dictation, grammar, composition, and picture study. It seemed like a gentle approach to teaching the language arts. As I started looking into the Charlotte Mason approach to teaching, I felt even more compelled to try it.

So, imagine my delight when I was offered the opportunity to try Primary Language Lessons in a workbook format! Cynthia Albright has taken this already wonderful resource and made it even more accessible by creating a product that the homeschool parent can easily print and allow the child to work with. I was able to review Primary Language Lessons Part 2, which is intended for a third grade student. My daughter, a nine-year-old third grader, was a willing participant.

The first thing I noticed was how easy it was to download the product. Just a few simple clicks, and I was well on my way. The second thing I noticed, and that definitely appealed to me, was how economical the product is. At $8.95 for the download, this product should fit most budgets. Considering that the $8.95 buys a full year’s worth of lessons in both grammar and composition, it certainly seems like a great value.

For those of you that have looked at the original Primary Language Lessons, I think you’ll be pleased with how Cynthia has updated the lessons while still maintaining the charm and the Charlotte Mason approach. What her download has, that is missing in the original book, are a glossary, vocabulary, teacher helps, a resource list, lines for the student to write on, dictation sheets, and some general updates in terminology and in the letter writing lessons.  For example, some postal abbreviations have changed since the original book was published. These updates alone are well worth the money, in my opinion.

When I first pulled the lessons out to share with my daughter, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The very first lesson was a narration exercise, and I knew from experience that these could be frustrating for her. We read the piece on the silkworm and then I gave her the picture to look at.

screen-shot-2014-04-25-at-10-45-39-pm1

She was immediately interested in the pictures representing the different stages in the process of making silk, from the silkworm eggs all the way to the woven cloth. She willingly gave a narration that drew from both the story and the picture, and I was more than pleased with the nature lesson that was woven into our language arts that day!

As we continued on through the next several weeks, I was always happy with how the lessons managed to incorporate several things into one exercise. For example, a lesson on prepositions also provided a chance for copywork. Another lesson teaching the proper format for writing a friendly letter also gave my daughter the chance to practice some creative writing skills. All of the lessons were thorough, yet short enough to not make my daughter resent the experience.

I would certainly recommend this to anyone with a young elementary student in need of a grammar and writing program. It is a gentle approach, yet very thorough. Since we have already spent the year covering grammar before beginning this review, my daughter probably could have handled the next level, but she certainly wasn’t bored with the material. Although she had already encountered the concepts that were being taught, they were presented in the unique style that is a characteristic of a Charlotte Mason education, and that kept it fun and engaging for her. I plan to continue using this for the remainder of the year and look forward to purchasing the next level for our next school year.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog.  Opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of myself or my family and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog.  I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Amy was born in North Carolina, where she lives with her wonderful hubby and their 4 children. The family lives in a charming, old home (money pit) built in 1930, with their cats, dog, and goat. Amy consumes large amounts of coffee, pins far too many pins on Pinterest, and enjoys lesson planning (surfing the web) a little too much. She and her husband are passing down their love of music and books to their children, and in fact, may be homeschooling to legitimize their addiction to books… Although her life didn’t turn out one bit like she had planned as a teen (Paul McCartney was already married…), Amy wouldn’t change a thing, and cherishes every moment spent with her family. 

 

Review: Intermediate Language Lessons Level One/Grade 4, by Caitilin Fiona

 

I have been familiar with and a big fan of Intermediate Language Lessons for at least five years. Imagine my pleasure upon receiving this new workbook format of the same material!

ill

Cynthia Albright has done an excellent job of reformatting a beautiful vintage work into a beautiful modern one. She has kept all of the original ease of use — lessons written to the student, seemingly simple assignments that deepen the child’s understanding of English — with the addition of modern formatting into a workbook, and small corrections in things like the forms of street addresses which have naturally changed since the original was published.

In addition, the lessons focus on beautiful things: those of nature, giving attention to topics like birds, plants, and the natural world generally; and those of humanity, giving the student examples of pretty pictures for picture study, and poems to be familiar with or memorized.

I will be honest that in some places, the old-fashioned prettiness can become overwhelming, especially in the picture study pages; but this can be remedied either by choosing an alternate picture for the child to study, or by skipping those assignments. I have done both.

My children like the ease with which they can both understand the lessons, and use the workbook format that allows them to keep all their grammar and English work in one neat place. The only way that this could be improved, in my view, is by having the option to purchase a bound version of the workbook; in our family we have a tendency to lose loose leaf pages, no matter how carefully filed in binders.

In short, this new updated workbook format of Intermediate Language Lessons is a winner, requiring little to no parent prep, yet providing a solid and manageable level of work from the students at a very affordable price of $8.95. I am pleased to give it my warmest recommendation.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

 

Caitilincaitlin_fiona Fiona–Caitilin is the mother of six children, ranging from high school down to early elementary, all of whom she has homeschooled from the beginning. Her particular interests in the homeschool universe include teaching Latin, Shakespeare, and Great Books. Outside of homeschooling, her interests include languages, literature, theology, cookery and nutrition, movies, and fooling around, er, researching on the Internet.

Review: Primary Language Lessons, by Emma

I was given the opportunity to review Emma Serl’s Primary Language Lessons Part 1, which is recommended for children in the second grade. We had already been using the original book, so the material wasn’t new to us, but I have loved having the glossary, vocabulary section, teacher helps, resource list and updated lessons in such a handy format. Plus, there was no need for an additional notebook, as the pages were already beautifully designed and included lines for writing. The download was a snap — just click and go. The price can’t be beat as it is well worth the $8.95.

As I said, we had been using the book before being given the chance to review the workbook. I loved that this one little book included picture study, nature study, poetry, grammar, origin, composition, letter writing and more. My son loved reading the passages and writing about them. Both my son and my younger daughter enjoyed the lovely photos and took part in the picture study activities.

img_0559

During the lessons, he learned how to address an envelope and write a letter. He memorized a poem and practiced his comprehensions skills. He also learned when to capitalize in a name and spent time researching farming practices. The sweet Charlotte Mason approach is both thorough and gentle. The lessons are short and enjoyable, yet they cover quite a bit of material.

I would certainly recommend this curriculum to anyone who is looking for a thorough elementary Language Arts program. It is both Charlotte Mason and classical in approach and I feel most children would benefit from the lovely photos and beautiful language of the book. The workbook format makes it that much easier to use.

I will use this again when my youngest is in second grade, and I plan to purchase Part 2 for my oldest once we have finished Part 1.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of myself or my family and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

 

EmmaemmaEmma has been married for seven years, and is mom of two, plus one once-crazy dog. She’s been homeschooling for three years now in NC. In addition to being a wife, mom and educator, she is also a Graphic Designer.

Review: Primary Language Lessons, by Briana Elizabeth

 

I have long been a user of Emma Serl’s Primary Language Lessons and Intermediate Language Lessons. My children are wonderful writers, and I fully give credit to Emma Serl’s books for their ability. However, their only drawback has been that unless you understood what the lesson was trying to teach and had a firm grasp on grammar yourself, you wouldn’t be able to use them with the same success. This is why I was always very hesitant to recommend them to beginning homeschoolers. They are not lessons that you read through, fill in the blanks and check the answer key. The teacher has to be a fully active participant in drawing out in the student what the purpose of the lesson is.

I am hesitant no more. Cynthia of Primary Language Lessons and has done the hard work of not only making a wonderful workbook for the student, but also wrote Teacher Helps in the appendix of the download that will show the parent precisely what the lesson is about. There are beautiful pages for dictation, and she has also left the picture studies as the original. The structure and art are so pleasing and in keeping with the hardbound format that the workbook fully keeps with the tradition of Serl’s work. And, she has done all of this for an amazing price of $8.95 for each grade.

pll

 

The wonderful thing about using the same curriculum for each student is that it builds the family culture, and the homeschool culture, so when I told my very last student that she was going to be starting Primary Language Lessons just like her older siblings, she was so proud. The download was easy to print out, and all we had to do was punch it and tuck it into a binder. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed the lessons and I had to made her stop plowing through them. (Plowing through is not the aim of the workbook, even if they can. It’s a multi-threaded approach to language arts, and each portion is very important to the whole of the student’s learning!)

In closing, it is with great confidence that I recommend Cynthia Albright’s Primary Language Lessons. She’s done an amazing job with the product and given the homeschooling community much needed help with what was to begin with an almost perfect language arts curriculum.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of myself or my family and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

 

brianaBriana Elizabeth has been at this homeschool gig since her 23 year old son was in 7th grade, and his psychiatrist told her that he had to be homeschooled. Her son never went back to public school that year, and the following year, she pulled her 4th grade daughter out of public school. Her five other children have all been homeschooled entirely. It was baptism by fire, but she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Through the years, she has in the end, not only educated her children, but herself, and homeschooling has brought about a whole paradigm change of living for her family. The education that had seemed only possible for the elite was possible through classically homeschooling.

Review: Intermediate Language Lessons Reformatted by C. Albright, Level 2/Grade 5, by Amy Rose

 

I love Intermediate Language Lessons by Emma Serl. I used it with my older children so I know how gentle, thorough, and effective this book can be! The book includes art study, classic poetry and literature, vocabulary, grammar and usage lessons, composition, and  more. Whenever I meet younger homeschooling families who are struggling with language arts, I always want to recommend ILL. Sometimes I do recommend it, but usually I don’t, because there’s one problem with this book: The teacher has to know what she’s doing to make it work. No instructor’s guide is included; no answer key was saved from the Victorian era when this book was written…the modern teacher is on her own. Novice home educators sometimes lack the grammar background to teach effectively with Intermediate Language Lessons. I’ve often thought that someone should make this book more accessible to everyone by reformatting and updating it and creating a teacher’s guide.

Well, Cynthia Albright stepped forward as the “someone” to do the work that I was unwilling to do! She has created a reformatted workbook edition of Intermediate Language Lessons, including a teacher’s guide and many other aids that make learning with ILL possible for every family. I am privileged to be able to review this edition for Sandbox to Socrates.

I tried out Level Two in my home, along with the Instructor Guide for Level Two. This level is intended for fifth graders but can be adjusted to accommodate slightly older or younger students. I used it with my nine-year-old, and we studied these lessons for six weeks. The materials, which are PDF downloads, can be purchased at www.intermediatelanguagelessons.com. The Level Two Workbook costs $8.95 and the Level Two Instructor Guide is $4.50. Permission is given to make as many copies as needed for the purchaser’s own family.

Professional and Beautiful Appearance

The style and artwork are classically attractive, almost vintage-looking, but my child did not find them to be dated or off-putting. He thought the style was very nice, and he was proud to add his own penmanship and coloring to the pages! Each page includes plenty of white space as well as ample room to write answers.

ill-2 

ill-1-e1398473607931

Clear Instruction

The Instructor Guide plainly states the objective of each lesson and the exact method for teaching it. There is no “education-ese” or lengthy jargon, rather a simple repeating of Emma Serl’s original instructions along with some explanation of what Serl meant by them, and what exactly we are to look for in the child’s work. The Instructor Guide includes an answer key and sample answers for writing assignments that will naturally vary. The instructions to the child within the workbook are also briefly and plainly stated. My son was able to understand perfectly in most cases, and the guide was there to help me when he didn’t.

Charlotte Mason Style

Mrs. Albright created a workbook for the child to write in, instead of copying the entire lesson by hand, but she did not lose the heart of the Charlotte Mason method at all in the process. The child still must do the work of understanding and composing. Narration was not abandoned for multiple choice or short answer questions! Copywork, dictation, and grammar studies are all still there. The rigor and effectiveness remain intact in this version. I compared my nine-year-old’s work with his elder brothers’ work that they did with the original whole book (years ago), and his is not lacking in any way. Yet he prefers the workbook style and I think it includes less “pencil work” that is so fatiguing for some children.

Recommended

I am very pleased with this product. I will continue to use Mrs. Albright’s workbook format of Emma Serl’s book with my nine-year-old, and I will certainly recommend it without hesitation to newer homeschoolers. I think these materials are very appropriate in a classical home education setting, because Emma Serl’s original work contains classic literature, poetry, grammar lessons, and classical art; and Mrs. Albright’s workbook instructs children in copywork, narration, dictation, composition, and picture study.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of myself or my family and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

 

Amy R12211601494_8a0a5dcb15ose–Amy Rose was a middle child growing up in a trailer park in the Midwest with talented parents who struggled financially. Her future life was easy to imagine until one magical day when she was thirteen her fairy godmother gave her a box of oil pastels and a vintage textbook titled, “England in Literature.” Suddenly the entire wealth of riches found in the history of the West became to her a Holy Grail.  So she grew up and learned how to classically educate her own children who all turned out to be geniuses or at least mostly teachable.