Wednesday, August 2, 2017

English on a Roll

I am always happy to review new products that might excited my little ones. I'm a huge believer in making learning fun, especially in the younger years, so we incorporate hands-on learning all the time. I know many people don't enjoy learning the nitpicky rules of the English language, but I've always loved it and chose Secondary English as my college major. Though I ended up teaching only one year of high school English classes before coming home full-time, I now have the privilege of passing on the love of the  language to my own kids. But how can learning (or even teaching) grammar be fun for those who don't naturally enjoy it? The English Grammar Teaching Method from English on a Roll is designed to meet that need.

English on a Roll was created by Linda Hopkins Koran in 2001, when she was teaching an ESL (English as a Second Language) class. None of the 25 students spoke English, and most of them were illiterate. After searching for something to help her communicate with the students and finding nothing that worked, she began to develop a program that quickly helped them build sentences in English. English on a Roll has been helping students ever since.   

"Languages are like intricate puzzles, each with unique rules and structure. Once the basic fundamentals of a language are understood, communicating becomes much simpler and more successful.” ~ Linda Hopkins Koran

The English Grammar Teaching Method is a multisensory program that uses color-coded cubes to teach English grammar. By combining visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles, the program becomes a full approach that reduces errors and aids in the understanding of the language. Students learn syntax by manipulating the 40 cubes to create sentences and phrases. Because each cube contains only one type of word, students are able to find the correct choice more easily and learn parts of speech by association. The cubes (along with two blank ones) are divided into the following types and coordinating colors:

  • Pronouns: blue
  • Question Words: green
  • Nouns: dark blue
  • Articles: dark blue
  • Prepositions: dark blue
  • Verbs: red
  • Adverbs: orange
  • Adjectives: purple
  • Conjunctions: black
  • Punctuation: black    

Each cube has one word on a side and contains a "cluster" of similar words. For example, The subject pronouns cube has I, you, he/she, it, we, and they. The common preposition cube has at, for, to, from, with, and of. The cube for all forms of have lists have, has, had, having, and to have. Familiarizing yourself with the cubes and colors will make both teaching and learning easier.

A detailed teaching textbook is included with the cubes. Very little preparation is needed on the part of the teacher, because everything is laid out in the text. Each lesson follows the same format:
  • Prep: shows the needed cubes, pages to copy, and materials
  • Notes & Vocabulary: teaching tips and new vocab
  • Teach the Concepts: detailed teaching instruction using the cubes and handouts
  • Games/Conversations: games to review the new concepts
  • Written Exercises: reproducible exercises for more practice
English on a Roll was written with the classroom setting in mind, but it can easily be adapted to be used one-on-one. I had gotten this set to work with my kindergartner. Since I read that this could be used as young as 5-years-old and those learning to read, I assumed there were letter cubes along with the words cubes. The website clearly states that the curriculum is for grammar, so the misunderstanding is solely my own. The lessons start simply by teaching the pronouns and singular/plural. There is a reproducible with stick figure examples that can be copied if using with multiple students, but we just used it directly in the book. Lesson two has the addition of the Be verbs. The student learns which combinations can be made, such as I am, you are, he is, they are, ect.. The 37 lessons continue in this fashion. Each cube that is added opens up multiple new combinations and teaches new concepts.

Since my boy is a learning reader, we've been taking it slow. I think it's important to have a solid foundation of phonics before introducing too many sight words. I work through the lessons with him, giving him as much help and direction as he needs. He loves playing with the cubes and finding the words he wants to make the appropriate combinations. Even though I personally think this curriculum would be better suited to an English-speaking student who can already read, this truly is written in a way that can gently be used even with non-readers. Of course, it also works well with those who are learning English as a second language.

English on a Roll is a great hands-on product that teaches English grammar in a fun game-like way. If you'd like more detailed information of the curriculum, you can request free sample chapters and watch a demo of an actual lesson.

You can connect with English on a Roll on their Facebook page and website

You can read more reviews of this product on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

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