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MP's Philosophy for Teaching Grammar

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    MP's Philosophy for Teaching Grammar

    Hello MP friends,

    I am seeking some clarification (assurance?) on MP philosophy and methods for grammar instruction. We use MP language arts in our 4-morning-a-week hybrid school. This year, I taught Prima Latina and EGP together, along with the enrichment activities from the 2nd grade literature, and the Grammar seemed very seamless and adequate--just like all the MP curriculum that I have thus far taught.

    In our next class up however, a combo of 8/9 year olds (3rd/4th respectively) our teacher used EGR1, and also taught Prima, as she was not quite ready to bite off Latina Christiana next year, and none of our students had yet studied any Latin. In this situation, EGR1 alone seemed inadequate, and did not seem to provide enough practice or application. (It could also be because we were not teaching the curriculum properly)

    Next year, we will teach Latina to this group of rising 4/5 students, and finish the 2nd half of EGR 1. And our rising 3rd grade students will also do Latin and the first half of EGR1.

    My co-teacher, however, is not convinced that EGR1 is an adequate treatment of Grammar. My understanding is that, paired with Latina, it is adequate. Am I correct in this?

    I will be teaching Latina to both the rising 3rd and 4th/5th graders next year, and I have not yet taught Latin. (Except for Prima). I have, however, taught Spanish, and I am confident that I can teach Latina, as it is laid out in such an excellent way, and does not assumed that the teacher is trained in Latin.

    I have not, however, experienced using Latin as the foundation for teaching English grammar, and I would love some encouragement and insight on how that works. Are my students really going to learn English grammar by studying Latin? Do they ever learn how to parse sentences? Or to identify the different sentence patterns? And, do they need to?

    My older children's school used Shurley grammar in grade 3-7 to thoroughly teach analytical grammar. They did not start Latin until high school, but the Shurely grammar foundation in English seemed to prepare them to do well in Latin. It seems that perhaps MP's approach to English and Latin grammar is the inverse of what my older students experienced? Latin Grammar to learn English Grammar rather than English Gramm to learn Latin Grammar? Is that somewhat accurate?

    The teacher guidelines at front of EGR were helpful to understand why EGR uses a recitation rather than an analytical approach. I'm just trying to figure out how it all fits together, and how and when students ultimately end up with a solid understanding of Grammar.

    Thank you for your help!

    Shawna

    Last edited by ShawnaB; 04-14-2021, 08:28 PM.

    #2
    I think you'll see it all come together once you start Latina Christiana. It is as easy to teach as you suspect it will be, and indeed the Latin romance languages really do help you make more connections, identify derivatives and cognates and help with the idea of gendered language and tense endings.

    To me, grammar is like studying economics in a foreign language. First you have the "foreign language" barrier of all of this new jargon, then you have the dramatic interplay of word order in English that helps identify how each word is acting (its job) in the sentence. It takes a lot of time to piece it all together in English, yet Latin grammar is pretty easy. EGR is definitely a part to whole process, and it could be easy to demand at year one that students grasp the big picture and be able to apply everything they've learned perfectly, but in truth it will take a few years of both EGR and Latin to fully flesh it out. Verb, adjective, noun and preposition don't imply anything by their name, so the questions (Can I do ___? Does it describe something or one? Is it a person, place, thing or idea? Can I replace it with a pronoun? Does it show direction or relationship?) help students identify them based on their job. At each new level, students break those categories down into further subgroups (concrete or abstract, compound or collective, existence or action, main verb or helping verb, verb vs. gerund or participle).

    My student does a lot better the next year on concepts she memorized the year prior. I make sure we do weekly review over the summer, and when we start the next level of EGR, having all of the rules fully memorized, it frees up that knowledge to be applied. I often incorporate EGR questions (i.e., the three questions adjectives answer are ___, or the four questions adverbs answer are ____) when we evaluate the highlighted words in Classical Composition. We analyze all new spelling words and vocabulary from FMOR and literature with those rules to identify parts of speech. If we learn a new participle (adjective formed from a verb), and I see one in the reading for the week, I will ask, "Is there a word in this sentence that fits the new rule we learned for the week?" Taking my student back to the examples always helps because the definitions can be very obtuse. I think some kids will even struggle with words like "preceding" and "modifies," so definitely ask repeatedly for your students' own definitions for these. I also make ample use of hand motions for difficult words within the definitions.

    Sentence diagramming isn't really introduced until FFL, so if you're teaching LC at the two-year pace, it will delay the big picture a bit more. You might avail yourself of Rod & Staff Beginning Wisely 3, a great book MP used to use, to gently reinforce grammar concepts and introduce sentence diagramming. We used the R&S as a supplement the summer before we began FFL in MP4. I found that a simple mastery of fitting the subject into the first slot and the verb or verb phrase into the second (with the implied subject of "you" in parentheses for imperatives) made FFL and EGR 2 feel easier. Another book I found extremely helpful was Cindy L. Vitto's Grammar by Diagram, 2nd edition. It was recommended at the 2020 Sodalitas by a Hillsdale professor who spoke on the importance of understanding grammar. It is both a systematic explanation and a student workbook (for you) with answer key. It has been so helpful to refresh all of the concepts I learned in college that were detached from the structure (diagramming) that makes it so easy to identify parts of speech and their jobs in the sentence.

    Mama of 2, teacher of 3
    Summer: First Start French I
    SY 22/23
    6A, teaching TFL & CC Chreia/Maxim in group, and Koine Greek
    MP2 w/ R&S Arithmetic 3


    Completed MPK, MP1, MP2, 3A, 4A, 5A
    SC B, SC C, SC1 (Phonics/Math), SC2's Writing Book 1

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      #3
      Originally posted by ShawnaB View Post
      Hello MP friends,

      In our next class up however, a combo of 8/9 year olds (3rd/4th respectively) our teacher used EGR1, and also taught Prima, as she was not quite ready to bite off Latina Christiana next year, and none of our students had yet studied any Latin. In this situation, EGR1 alone seemed inadequate, and did not seem to provide enough practice or application. (It could also be because we were not teaching the curriculum properly)

      My youngest did this this year (EGR I and Prima) and I'll repeat him in EGR I along with Latina Christiana next year. We do LC in one year and the EGR series goes hand in hand with Latin starting with Latina Christiana.

      Next year, we will teach Latina to this group of rising 4/5 students, and finish the 2nd half of EGR 1. And our rising 3rd grade students will also do Latin and the first half of EGR1.

      My co-teacher, however, is not convinced that EGR1 is an adequate treatment of Grammar. My understanding is that, paired with Latina, it is adequate. Am I correct in this?

      You are right IF students continue to study Latin. A few years of Latin in the early years will not be sufficient training in analytical grammar, but the whole trajectory must be taken into consideration.

      I have not, however, experienced using Latin as the foundation for teaching English grammar, and I would love some encouragement and insight on how that works. Are my students really going to learn English grammar by studying Latin? Do they ever learn how to parse sentences? Or to identify the different sentence patterns? And, do they need to?

      They will learn English grammar! Yes, yes, yes! As an example, students do extensive hand-holding parsing in both First and Second Forms. I was just prepping my Second Form Lesson 25 this morning. The work required me to label the function of every word in the sentence, the part of speech, the declension/gender/number/case of every noun, the conjugation/person/number/tense/voice/mood of every verb, along with which case each preposition governed, and what words adjective and adverbs each modify. And that's all before translating this: You will faithfully be carried to heaven by an eternal hope on account of Christ.

      My older children's school used Shurley grammar in grade 3-7 to thoroughly teach analytical grammar. They did not start Latin until high school, but the Shurely grammar foundation in English seemed to prepare them to do well in Latin. It seems that perhaps MP's approach to English and Latin grammar is the inverse of what my older students experienced? Latin Grammar to learn English Grammar rather than English Gramm to learn Latin Grammar? Is that somewhat accurate?

      Analytical grammar is...well, analytical, and it can be very hard for students before about 7th grade. Identifying a direct object or object of a preposition in English requires analytical thinking whereas in Latin you simply look for the word in the accusative (or ablative) case which can only be certain words in the sentence based on their endings. English grammar is concealed; Latin grammar is revealed. The maturation for analytical thinking does not come early for all children. We often see this in the switch from arithmetic to mathematics when pre-algebra can be fine for some 7th and 8th graders and a challenge for others.
      I would say you've nailed it to say that MP takes the inverse tack: Latin as the foundation and then English as the building on top. The difference is that with Latin you get the English thrown in because you are always, necessarily, working in English as well. Latin gives you Latin & English, and both of these in progressively more complex forms as you advance. English gives you...English.

      To summarize, Latin as a road to English grammar will work if you stay on the Latin road. Latin translation and reading after the grammar (First through Fourth Forms) overlaps with much upper school classics, poetry, and literature. Prima and LC are written as introductions to the Grammar, but they are not the grammar itself. It really gets cooking in the Forms.
      As a personal example: no, my own oldest child has received very little training in diagraming a sentence, but that's not because he can't or doesn't understand all that a diagram would reveal. He does. He doesn't need to know how to diagram a long sentence because he can explain the entire sentence grammatically. He knows intuitively from Latin and his work in literature and poetry everything a diagram would serve to "reveal." Diagrams are another way to represent what Latin students already know. If they don't know the English grammar, they can't do their Latin homework.

      I hope this helps!
      Festina lentē,
      Jessica P

      '22-'23 • 13th year HSing • 11th year MP
      DS Hillsdale College freshman
      DD 11th • HLN & Latin online
      DD 8th • HLN & Home
      DS 5th • HLN & Home
      Me • Memoria College, MPOA Fourth Form for Adults

      Teaching Third Form Latin and co-directing @
      Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by pickandgrin View Post
        I hope this helps!
        Yes, it does!

        Tentative Plan '22/'23 - 5th Year MP
        Homeschool Dad & Tutorial Magister
        8S, Rising 3nd MP @ HLN & Home
        6D, Rising 1st MP @ HLN & Home
        4S, Rising K MP @ HLN & Home

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          #5
          We aren’t at that spot quite yet ourselves, just getting to 2nd grade in the fall, but if you haven’t had a chance to check out the episodes on the MP YouTube channel there is a two part segment on the Homeschool Journal that talks a lot about Latin and grammar that was helpful.
          Rebecca

          Boy-2nd
          Boy-1st
          Boy-4yo
          Girl-2yo

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