Why teach Latin and Greek roots?
That’s probably the first question one might ask when contemplating purchasing a resource such as WordUp! The second question will likely be, “Why WordUp!”?
I hope to answer both of your questions in this review.
Let’s begin with the question of why teach Latin and Greek roots.
Did you know that more than half of English words are derived from Latin and Greek roots? That means for every 4 words you speak, read, or write, 2-3 of them have their origins in these ancient languages. When children are able to understand the meanings of Latin and Greek roots, it open up a huge door of understanding (and using) a richer vocabulary.
A couple of years ago, we were afforded the opportunity to review a Latin curriculum from the Compass Classroom, also producers of WordUp!, called Visual Latin. I wrote these words in that review:
Visual Latin is a video Latin program, for ages 9 and up (or any good reader), taught by Dwane Thomas, a funny, personable homeschool dad, who quickly engages students with his obvious love for the language, delightful presence, and awesome sense of humor. Latin is now Ben’s favorite subject. Honestly, it’s become my favorite subject, too. Even I am learning, and I have caught myself watching the videos when Ben isn’t even around. Never in my wildest imagination . . .
So, the first thing you need to know is that WordUp! is taught by the same funny guy . . . Dwane Thomas. When Ben found out there was another video series with Dwane, he didn’t even care what the topic was, he wanted in.
WordUp! differs from Visual Latin in that it is not a whole language learning curriculum. Rather, it teaches vocabulary by introducing 10 Latin and 10 Greek roots, along with 10 vocabulary words for each root. In each of the 10 lessons, a Latin and Greek root with the same meaning is introduced. For example, in lesson one, we learned the root words “aqua” and “hydra” which both mean “water.”
Using an entertaining “game show” model whereby Dwane humorously plays all the key parts, 10 Latin roots and 10 Greek roots were introduced for “aqua” and “hydra.” Words such as aquarium, aquanaut, aqueduct, aquifer, hydrangea, hydrant, hydrous, and dehydrated.
Dwane gives simple historical and/or scientific explanations for each word along with definitions and interesting anecdotal commentary. For example, we learned that the hyndrandea flower got its name from the idea that the seed pods look like a bunch of little water jugs.
As he speaks there are visual representations of each word playing in the background of the video, increasing the probability that the information will be retained.
The first day Ben logged on to watch, he completed 3 lessons in one stretch. He would have continued through the entire program if I had not insisted he move on to the next subject. In fact, I tweeted this at the time:
We may never get to math. Ben wants to watch “just one more” WordUp video.
This was one of those moments with that hyper-focus ADHD characteristic was playing in a mostly positive way. Ben will never hyper-focus on math, but I can’t complain if he does so for vocabulary.
Using WordUp! in Your Homeschool
How you use WordUp! in your classroom is up to you. Lessons for WordUp! could be spaced out over 1-2 weeks, and used for vocabulary, spelling, or writing prompts. You could even use them as a springboard for research projects or unit studies. The possibilities are endless. Each DVD or download set includes:
- 10 video lessons (12-15 min each)
- 20 Latin & Greek roots
- 200+ English words
- Links to online Vocabulary Flashcards
Even if you do as we did and simply allow your students to just watch the video lessons and nothing more, it is likely they will absorb much of the information, and you will see it springing forth in their increased vocabulary and writing skills. This has been the result for Ben. He has now watched all 10 lessons numerous times (I told you – hyper-focus!) and has not tired of them yet.