Homeschoolers often view vocabulary as an afterthought . . . until the college entrance tests loom large. While good literature reading and healthy writing training greatly improve a student’s command of English, that usually isn’t enough.
Students need training in the building blocks of English words.
Instead of looking up words in a dictionary or even memorizing definitions, students are trained to identify the Latin or Greek root of a word to discern the meaning, memorize the root, determine the word’s prefix or suffix, then use the word in a sentence.
The course is divided into three parts: 18 lessons of Latin I, 18 lessons of Latin II, and 18 lessons of Greek.
Each group of lessons focuses on that language and a specific list of root words, so as the course progresses, students become increasingly confident identifying word meanings. Each lesson contains four parts, with an extra day for review or testing:
- Match the word with definition using only a list of Latin or Greek word parts (Traduce: to defame, slander, vilify)
- Identify the Latin or Greek root of each word and what that root means. (Traduce: duce — to lead)
- Identify which vocabulary word means a combination of root and affix meaning (across+ to lead — traduce)
- Identify the appropriate use in a sentence. (Gossip often serves to traduce undeserving people)
And therein lies the rub. For the first few weeks, students find the course difficult and even confusing. They are strongly encouraged not to use a dictionary, yet they are required to identify the meaning of very unfamiliar words simply by looking at a list of Latin roots.
Though this rough beginning may seem discouraging, older students quickly become familiar with the program’s strategy and find the lessons increasingly simple. This is why the course is better for high school students, especially older, well-read homeschoolers.
Since there are three parts to the course, homeschoolers enjoy flexibility in using this course. It may be completed in one year or two years (with the addition of one semester of Biblical Greek, for example). As a compliment to an existing English curriculum, it works well for a self-paced study.
The new 2nd edition has been completely updated by MasterBooks. It now includes a Parent Lesson Planner to make progress simple for students and parents. It also has expanded, yet easy, instructions to encourage the user for greater flexibility.
I taught the first edition (not the updated second edition) Jensen’s Vocabulary simultaneously with my eighth-grade and tenth-grade students. They used the course in addition to English literature and writing or grammar for an honors credit in English. Because of the difficulty level and because of the heavy English workload, we completed a Vocabulary lesson about once every two weeks. We finished the first half of the book and plan to finish the entire course next year.
My tenth-grade student struggled with the first two lessons, but then she found the course easy and breezed through it. She quickly memorized the Latin word parts and recognized them in daily life, as well.
My eighth-grade student struggled with the course for several weeks. He needed my help for the first few weeks, then he checked his first day’s answers with his sister for several weeks. After a couple months, he seemed to catch on, though he never 100% mastered any one lesson. In the future, I would hold off tackling this subject until well into high school.
Ultimately, I do recommend this course. By forcing students to analyze the word parts and repeating the same format every week, Jensen’s Vocabulary works. Students do not merely memorize a few vocabulary words and definitions. They learn valuable Latin and Greek word parts that will serve them long into the future.
Jensen’s Vocabulary is printed in a consumable workbook. The course is recommended for high school students. Sample pages are available on the publisher’s website. The workbooks are available directly from the publisher on sale for $26.40. You can find the course as well on Amazon. Downloadable versions are available from the publisher for $23.10. You can preview the book on the publisher’s website.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this curriculum from the publisher for my own consideration. These opinions are my own. Affiliate links help support this site.