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Using Language Well
Help your student grow in language arts skills through great literature!
Using Language Well is designed to be a companion to our Spelling Wisdom books, which contain wonderful excerpts from great literature, worthy poetry, beautiful Scripture, and powerful quotations. Now you can use those same great literary passages to teach English usage, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and composition!
Book 1 focuses on basic capitalization, punctuation, and usage. We recommend it for grades 3 and 4.
Book 2 focuses on parts of speech. We recommend it for grades 5 and 6.
Book 3 focuses on sentence analysis. We recommend it for grades 7 and 8.
Pair Using Language Well with Spelling Wisdom to
- Give your student a rich literary approach to language arts in grades 3–12.
- Help your student discover for himself key points of English usage, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and elements of good writing.
- Keep interest and attention high through short lessons just twice a week.
- Confidently guide and evaluate your student’s progress in composition with the helpful tips and practical tools in the Teacher Guide & Answer Key.
The student book is consumable; order one per student.
The Teacher Guide
The Teacher Guide for Using Language Well provides clear answers to every question in the Student Book, but it also gives you so much more! You will find helpful and thorough explanations sprinkled throughout the lessons to encourage you in the Charlotte Mason way of doing language arts, plus a step-by-step plan to help your student grow in composition through his narrations. All the practical tools you need to evaluate his writing are included.
The Teacher Guide & Answer Key will help you
- Quickly confirm what your student learned in the Student Book through guided discovery and great literature.
- Keep on track with helpful teaching tips and practical reminders based on Charlotte Mason’s methods.
- Encourage your student to improve naturally in composition skills step by step.
- Evaluate your student’s narrations with confidence using the included rubrics and detailed instructions.
- Be assured your student is growing in language arts skills with Charlotte’s simple yet effective methods!
All Using Language Well books build upon previous ones and include English, grammar, and writing points. Each book serves a unique role in the series.
Book 1—Basic Capitalization, Punctuation, and Usage
Contractions • Sentences • Plurals • Possessives • Synonyms, Antonyms, Homonyms • Capitalization • Punctuation • Alphabetizing • Prefixes and Suffixes
Book 2—Parts of Speech
Nouns • Pronouns • Adjectives • Verbs • Adverbs • Interjections • Articles • Conjunctions • Prepositions
Book 3—Sentence Analysis
Subjects • Predicates • Subject Complements • Verbals • Phrases • Clauses • Introduction to Poetry Analysis
Book 4—Composition Sharpening
Book 5—Advanced Composition
Placing Your Student
Use the book topics listed above to help you determine which book to start with. For example, if your student already has a good grasp on basic capitalization and punctuation (covered in Book 1) but hasn’t yet studied parts of speech, start with Book 2. Complete two lessons per week, right along with Spelling Wisdom, and a book will last two years: Lessons 1–70 in the first year and Lessons 71–140 in the second.
The grade levels are not the final say, but if you’re curious, here is one way we envision the Using Language Well series being used through the grades:
- Grades 3 and 4—Book 1 (Lessons 1–70 incorporate transcription; Lessons 71–140 make the transition to prepared dictation.)
- Grades 5 and 6—Book 2
- Grades 7 and 8—Book 3
- Grades 9 and 10—Book 4
- Grades 11 and 12—Book 5 (optional)
If your student has already completed a Spelling Wisdom book’s dictation exercises, you can still work through its corresponding Using Language Well lessons and either omit or review dictation portions as desired.
For example, let’s say you have already done the dictation exercises in Spelling Wisdom, Book 1, and are ready to start Book 2, but you think your student will benefit from studying the punctuation, capitalization, and English usage lessons in Using Language Well, Book 1. You could easily set aside the Spelling Wisdom, Book 2, for a few weeks and focus on working through the Using Language Well book you have missed. Most lessons take only a few minutes, so you could do several per week by leaving out the dictation portions you have already done. Once you have completed the lessons in Using Language Well, Book 1, you could pick back up and start doing the exercises of Spelling Wisdom, Book 2, along with the lessons in Using Language Well, Book 2.
Is this all I need to teach my kids grammar?
Sonya Shafer –
If you want to give your kids a solid introduction to grammar, you would need to work through Books 2 and 3. If you want to give them in-depth grammar studies, we recommend Analytical Grammar for that.
Just received this today and it looks wonderful! Thanks so much for all your wonderful resources. I’d like to schedule this but can’t find it in the organizer. Is it just not put in yet, or am I not looking for it correctly?
Jordan Smith –
I’m glad you’re excited about Using Language Well! We hadn’t yet added the books to the CM Bookfinder yet, but I just took care of that. You should be able to find and schedule them now.
Jordan, For some reason I am not seeing it in the CM Bookfinder. Any tips? Also, I know I have seen this somewhere (maybe on the forum) but can you speak to how often you might suggest using this resource once you are “caught up” with the lessons in Spelling Wisdom. Once a week, twice a week? I believe it was one of these two. . .
Jordan Smith –
Here’s a link to where you can find all of the Using Language Well books in the Bookfinder: https://apps.simplycharlottemason.com/resources/tags/scm-language-arts
You can do the lessons in Using Language Well right alongside the Spelling Wisdom lessons, completing two per week. The Using Language Well books even include step-by-step lessons for the student to study the Spelling Wisdom passages and complete the dictation exercises.
Alicia Hart –
These are FABULOUS! I just started using them this week. They are just what we needed. It gives us a little bit more structure to our spelling dictation time as well as that guided discovery that is so important.
I used Spelling Wisdom this past year, and we loved it! I want to add Using Language Well this year. Do you recommend doing the Spelling Wisdom exercise and the Using Language Well lesson together on the same day, or should they be done on separate days?
Sonya Shafer –
Since the lessons are short (only 5 or 10 minutes at most), you should be able to do them on the same day as the Spelling Wisdom exercise. Of course, if the dictation passage is a longer one, feel free to give your student more time to study and prepare it as needed.
Colleen Woodcock –
Wondering what book to use. I am new to Charlotte mason style, I think my daughter is at grade 2 level in language so what book do I use?
Sonya Shafer –
For grade 2 we would recommend you do copywork and practice reading aloud, rather than Using Language Well. You might take a look at the Grade 2 suggestions for language arts on our free curriculum guide.
Question, not a review. My will be 4th grader (age 9) completed English for the Thoughtful Child 1 & 2 last year, but is on lesson 40 of Spelling Wisdom. Not sure if we should just run with Book 1 and start in the middle when he is caught up on Spelling Wisdom, or do Book 2 as I think he has a decent grasp on the topics covered except I can’t remember if we covered pre-fixes and suffixes. Would doing Book 1 be too redundant, or perhaps a good reinforcement of what he learned last year?
Sonya Shafer –
If he has finished EFTTC 1 and 2, you could easily start in the middle of Book 1 and continue from there. It will be a nice review and might introduce a couple of new concepts. Another advantage is that at lesson 40 in Using Language Well, Book 1, he will still be doing transcription and the book will walk him through the transition to prepared dictation around lesson 71 or so.
I am looking forward to using this series this year. I’ve used Spelling Wisdom in the past and love having language lessons keyed to the dictation. Since I have both in PDF format, I’ve printed them out so they form a two page spread with the language lesson on the left side and the dictation passage on the right side.
Sonya Shafer –
That’s a great idea for most of the lessons, Pam. Just a heads up that some of the lessons will direct the student to look back at several dictation passages in order to draw a conclusion based on an observed pattern. I’m not sure if you’re printing week by week or have all of the lessons together for the whole year, but thought you’d like to know.
Lisa R –
Another question for you, Sonya. I see in a post above you recommend using Analytical Grammar for an in-depth study of grammar. If I’m using Using Language Well, do I use both books at the same time in 6th grade? Thanks!
Sonya Shafer –
Some of that decision depends on the student, Lisa. Since the ULW lessons are short, you may be able to do both at the same time: AG every day and ULW twice a week. If you go that route, I would highly recommend that you split them up on the days that you’re doing both and put other subjects in between, so it’s not back-to-back grammar lessons.
But if doing both would overload your student, feel free to set ULW aside for a few weeks while you complete a unit of AG, then pick ULW up again and continue from there as reinforcement and review.
Beth Nowell –
Question: I am completely new to CM. I have been teaching a traditional/classical model with my oldest 2 boys (10 & 9.) They are in the middle of level 5 Shurley English. They have been labeling sentences since grade 1 (Noun, Verb, Adj, Adv, Preposition, Obj of Prep, Pronoun, Direct Obj, Indirect Obj etc.) They have also written numerous papers through IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing.) What do you recommend I do with them for LA now that I’m switching gears toward a CM approach? I have 7 children (ages 10, 9, 7, 4, 3, 22 months, & 6 weeks) so I’m wanting to have more of a family approach with our family time in the morning and individual work for my older 3 in the afternoon during naps.
Sonya Shafer –
Hi, Beth. It sounds like the two oldest have had enough grammar for a while, so you could lay that aside for now and give them a break. The main areas that would usually be the language arts focus for a 9- and 10-year-old are transcription or dictation, narration, and grammar. Since grammar is already taken care of and off the plate for a bit, let’s talk about the other areas.
You will want to do either transcription or dictation, depending on each son’s level. Dictation is how Charlotte Mason taught spelling, but it may be a different method from what you might be used to. It is not cold-turkey dictation; the student studies the passage ahead of time. Transcription is the step just before dictation. This series of articles should help you see how the two fit together and help you decide which one to use with each student. Using Language Well, Book 1, would walk you through both transcription and dictation. One possibility might be to start your 9yo at the beginning with transcription and your 10yo at Lesson 71 with dictation. Some of that decision also depends on whether you feel they would benefit from a review of basic capitalization and punctuation guidelines, which are covered in that book. If you don’t think they need that review, feel free to just use Spelling Wisdom, Book 1, to give you passages for their transcription or dictation.
The other important aspect that you will want to do is narration. Let me point you to two resources for details and help getting that method in place: the free e-book, 5 Steps to Successful Narration, and the blog series, Narration Q & A. (You can also get that series in an expanded book form, if you would prefer, with Your Questions Answered: Narration).
Just as a note of encouragement, many of the things you will be doing together as a family will also contribute to their growth in language arts: poetry, Shakespeare, a family read-aloud literature book. And their narrations will be in response to history, Bible, geography, and science books that you can read all together too. I hope you will find much freedom and enjoyment in the Charlotte Mason Method!
Both my daughter’s are using Volume 1 twice a week, which is a prefect pacing for my 10 year old daughter and my 11 year old daughter. The elder of the two started about 1/3 of the way through since she did not need to “review” of grammar of the first third of the book. We enjoy discussing the quotations and sometimes it is brought up at dinnertime, or connections are made with other readings or subjects during the day. My 13 year old son just started Spelling Wisdom Volume 3 for copywork/dictation, after working through the previous two. I look forward to V.3 of Using Language Well so he can also enjoy the benefits of this wonderfully integrated program!
Question: Grammar is a mystery to me – I don’t remember ever learning it at school and I do not know the parts of speech myself! I have a 12 yo poor speller but he is good with capitalisation , full stops (periods to you! we are in the UK) and comma’s; but no other grammar has been done. I also have 14 yo very good speller (fantastic visual memory (autistic) but comprehenesion can be low) but has not done parts of speech or any other grammar. Should I start with spelling wisdom 2 and Using Language well 2 for both of them ? or should I start with a higher spelling wisdom for the 14yo? When are the next English books due to be released? Should I just wait for them? Also they are brothers and it would not be good to have them on the same exercises due to competion….any advice please.
Jo in UK
Sonya Shafer –
Hi, Jo. It sounds like Book 2 would be a nice fit for your 12yo. For your 14yo, I would hesitate to introduce parts of speech if his comprehension is low. Parts-of-speech analysis is very much dependent on comprehending the sentence and figuring out how the different words and groups of words relate to each other. That exercise could be meaningless and frustrating to a child who is still trying to comprehend what is being communicated as a whole. (I know it would be for my autistic daughter.) So I think it might be better for your 14yo to start in Book 1 and focus on capitalization and punctuation and such at this point.
Hope this helps!
I’m very interested in using these. I have students for each level. Do you know when level 3 will be ready?
Doug Smith –
We don’t have a release date for that yet but we’re aiming for this year.
I am excited to try these soon with my son. He has is finishing up simple dictation sentences for spelling now (he maybe has a month or two of sentences left) and I am planning on switching him over to Spelling Wisdom and eventually ULW. I am trying to understand if he were to do the exercises in ULW as they correspond with SW, will that replace the dictation lesson in Spelling Wisdom? Or will he need to practice both the dictation in SW and then the ULW lesson separately? Thank you!
Hi Sara! The Using Language Well lessons and Spelling Wisdom work together. The last step in each lesson has your child prepare the Spelling Wisdom passage for dictation. You would not need to add a separate lesson for dictation.
I do have a question. In many language studies, how to use a and an, good and well, the tenses of verbs and other such things are addressed. Is it also addressed in this? And which book could so find that in if so? Thank you!
Sonya Shafer –
Yes, those types of studies are addressed in the Using Language Well series. Using a and an is covered in Book 1. Verb tenses are introduced in Book 2, along with the other parts of speech, and will be reviewed and expanded in Book 3. Books 4 and 5 will focus on many aspects of word choice, such as good and well.
You are always so kind to answer us all, how I do appreciate that. I have one more question before I order; is the correct usage of accept, except, alter, altar, capital, capitol and so on taught in Using Language Well or Spelling Wisdom? Thank you again.Truly.
Sonya Shafer –
The correct usage is modeled in Spelling Wisdom, but will be spotlighted / taught in Using Language Well, Books 3–5.
Does either level of ULW teach literary devices such as personification, alliteration, repetition, etc.? Or are these taught elsewhere in SCM?
Sonya Shafer –
Literary devices will be covered in ULW Books 4 and 5.
Kate Rouse –
In what capacities does or will ULW cover poetry? Is there anything else that will needs to be used in addition to ULW beside a grammar course? I can’t seem to get a grasp on how complete of a curriculum it is, although I am still looking forward to using it!
Tamara Bell –
Hi Kate! ULW Book 3 provides a gentle introduction to poetry analysis. You can learn more about Using Langauge Well 3 here: https://simplycharlottemason.com/blog/using-language-well-book-3-is-here/
We recommend adding Beyond the Book Report Season 3’s Essay and Research Papers by Analytical Grammar sometime in high school. Beyond that, Using Langauge Well coupled with Spelling Wisdom will provide your student with all he need for grammar, English usage, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and composition.
When are books 4 and 5 scheduled to be released? I haven’t been able to find that information. Thank you!
Tamara Bell –
As a company we don’t publish projected release dates mostly because of the unpredictability of the publishing industry and we don’t want families to plan on certain dates and then be disappointed. As soon as it is released we will announce it via our weekly emails: https://simplycharlottemason.com/subscribe/