Hot Sauce in the Lemonade
My youngest son was adopted from Russia in 1996 and began learning English at age five. When he was in the second grade he continued to have a terrible time learning to read in spite of many extra programs to help him at school, home and the community center. He would guess at the words and wasn’t even close much of the time. During his second grade one of the clues as to why he was struggling was sent home in a letter from his teacher. The letter announced that not only were the students learning words that they could sound out with phonics but that they had practiced recognizing one hundred common English words that were not in their formulas for phonics such as “through.”
I then realized why even with tutoring and even though the reading program claimed to be “pure phonics” that my son would guess on almost every word he read. The phonics learning instructions which would allow him to hear and understand a word that he knew were being overridden by the possibility that words were lurking in the text that he could not process with his phonics knowledge. The benefits of a good phonics program were neutralized by sprinkling as it were pepper into the salt or hot sauce into the lemonade. This approach, however well intentioned, was not the one that the McGuffy readers followed in the English books that our grandparents used. In the McGuffy books, words would not be introduced that the student did not have the skills to sound out correctly. Only after the phonetic algorithms were well practiced and ingrained would the more advanced exception words be learned.
As young students work to not only understand complex text but also to be able to express their own ideas, they face a similar dilemma. They intuitively understand many complex structures and relationships among sentences. But with no consistent framework of language available like “real phonics” is for decoding words, their understanding of how language elements connect together and their ability to write clearly are handicapped. The “hodgepodge” mixture of ad-hoc lists of rules, complex terminology and examples taught as “grammar” today will often more confuse than enlighten these students.
My second daughter began to study English as a second language when she was over ten years old, as she joined our family also in 1996 after living in Russia. As she began to learn to read and write English I became aware of just how difficult it is to develop the linguistic academic skills that are essential for success in school. These academic skills go beyond the basic oral communication skills that her younger brother and sister acquired so rapidly in the first year or so.
One of the reasons for the confusion might be that teachers focus on ill-defined “do’s and don’ts” without really teaching what language is all about. Traditionally, it was customary to teach language structure by the use of diagrams. Regrettably, for all practical purposes, that is no longer done. Consequently, students never really appreciate the wonderfully intricate system that language really is. In this book, we return to the past while adding a foundation in scientific principles. In short, Language will be Included!
The Scientific Side of Language
This book is based on a model of language called Junction Grammar (JG) developed by Eldon G. Lytle and his co-workers in the Linguistics Department and the Translation Sciences Institute at Brigham Young University in the 1960's and 1970's. Students of this theory have reported improvement in their ability to understand language and write more clearly. Moreover, for the first time, they expressed unparalleled excitement for language as a subject, owing largely to the fact that, while convention tends to portray English as a province of the arts (Language Arts), JG brings a spotlight to bear on the scientific side of the subject.
A more in-depth theoretical discussion of linguistic issues is found in the appendix.
Ronald P. Millett
From Eldon G. Lytle - Detail and Recommendations
The World of Work
For mature students, language science (linguistics) opens a portal to exciting new careers in natural language processing and natural intelligence modeling. Language IncludedTM is an attempt to bring the excitement of this perspective to younger students.
To facilitate his purpose, Ron Millett has introduced innovations in Junction Grammar diagrams that simplify them. He has also implemented a color coding scheme that makes language structuring more transparent. This, Ron has pointed out, may well be the first language primer where crayons, colored pencils and whiteboard markers are not only recommended but, at least in the early going, essential!
In selecting content, Ron has emphasized aspects of English that are directly related to student performance, whether the subject happens to be composition, learning a foreign language, mathematics, history or the arts. For enrichment purposes, I have expanded upon that base by INCLUDING (that word again!) the following hands-on activities and drills:
Relative to these items, the teacher will likely serve best as discussion leader and mentor, raising relevant questions for consideration and pointing to library and internet resources bearing upon them.
Towards a Language-Centered Approach
In their role, teachers are also encouraged to implement a LANGUAGE-CENTERED approach to teaching topics featured by thought problems and writing assignments. To this end, the following 6-R’s activity regimen is implemented. The student:
(1) Reads up on (Researches) the topic.
(2) Raps (discusses and/or debates) the topic with peers (teacher supervises).
(3) wRites an essay on the topic and submits it to the Writing Lab for analysis .
(4) Reviews and Revises the essay with reference to Writing Lab reports and then resubmits.
(5) Rates the Revised composition in partnership with teacher and peers.
(6) Remediates weaknesses based on Writing Lab diagnostics and personal/teacher appraisal.
English teachers, despite good intentions and best efforts, are often accused of scoring student compositions subjectively. Item #5 of the above 6-R’s regimen, when coupled with the WritingLab-Language IncludedTM combo, promises to lift that burden.
Eldon G. Lytle
Linguistic Technologies, Inc.