Even though we have been using them for almost a decade, there are two little hard back books that still give me joy almost every time I open them. Primary Language Lessons and Intermediate Language Lessons, both by Emma Serl, are full of wonderful yet inexpensive language lessons for the elementary years. (Note, using the above link you need to click on English Grammar on the left side of the screen to find these books.)
Miss Serl, head of English Department of the Teacher’s College of Kansas City in the early 1900’s, loved to write for children. Her two language books use famous artwork for picture discussions, and excerpts from good literature for memorization, study, dictation, and discussion. Usage is drilled in a pleasant way and grammar concepts are introduced gently. The books also cover outlining, composition, debates, observation lessons, and letter writing. Unlike many modern language programs, these quality reprints from 1911 are filled with much that is beautiful, noble, excellent, and worthy of praise.
Primary Language Lessons, intended for grades 2 and 3, contains 164 lessons. We usually start it toward the end of grade 2, after finishing English for the Thoughtful Child, and often extend it into grade 4. Intermediate Language Lessons, intended for grades 4 to 6, has 301 chapters containing more advanced concepts in all the areas mentioned above.
These two books give five years’ worth of thorough grounding in language at a fraction of the cost of inferior programs. They are flexible, easy to use, and not consumable. The only drawback we have noticed over the years is that the art reproductions are black and white rather than coloured. Occasionally we will order library books to see the artwork in colour. The new teacher’s guides, which I have not seen, contain answers, optional extra exercises, and rubrics for grading a student’s work. We have done additional grammar in the sixth grade, but with these teacher’s guides that might not be necessary.
More information and reviews are available for Primary Language Lessons and Intermediate Language Lessons but the link in the first paragraph has better prices. An altered, Roman Catholic version of the former is also available, but I have not seen it. In my opinion, Serl’s Primary Language Lessons is far superior to to all other programs I have seen, including First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise.
When I asked my children about these books, one said, “I like them but they might be hard for kids who don’t like writing.” A different child, who does not enjoy writing, agreed saying they were OK except for the writing…. Another one loved the poetry but disliked the discussions. She also pointed out that there was too much grammar, which startled me because I thought there could, perhaps, be a bit more of it.
If you or your children have any questions about the four books mentioned, feel free to ask my children or me.
I wish you all a wonderful few days until Thursday when, the Lord willing, I will share more about the high school years at Tea Time with Annie Kate.