First Language Lessons (FLL) is our elementary grammar curriculum. Many people pair FLL with our elementary writing curriculum, Writing With Ease (WWE) but the two curricula are not dependent on one another. You can use Well-Trained Mind Press' grammar with another vendor’s writing curriculum, or Well-Trained Mind Press' writing curriculum with another vendor’s grammar curriculum.
Start FLL Level 1 when the student is an emerging reader, can sound out multi-syllable words, and has practiced penmanship enough to be able to copy names, words, and short sentences. Starting in first or second grade leaves plenty of time to complete all levels of FLL in the elementary years and move on to Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind in the middle and upper grades.
How does First Language Lessons work? How is it structured?
FLL is a scripted grammar curriculum in four levels (not “grade levels”--use what is appropriate for your student’s ability and maturity level). Each level is designed to be completed in a year but should be completed at a pace that allows for mastery.
Levels 1 constitutes a full year of grammar instruction with content and instruction targeted at first or second grade level.
Level 2 constitutes a full year of grammar instruction with content and instruction targeted at the second or third grade level.
Level 2 builds on Level 1. If you are starting FLL in second grade, start with Level 1. In third grade, you have a choice: progress to Level 2 if you want to continue with the poems, stories and rhymes; or jump ahead to Level 3. Either option is fine.
Levels 1 or Level 2 require only the Instructor Guide; there is no student workbook as all the work is done orally. The optional Audio Companion brings to life the poems, stories and rhymes in both Levels 1 & 2.
Level 3 constitutes a full year of grammar instruction with content and instruction targeted at third or fourth grade level. It requires both an Instructor Guide and a Student Workbook.
Level 4 constitutes a full year of grammar instruction with content and instruction targeted at fourth or fifth grade level. It requires both an Instructor Guide and a Student Workbook.
Does FLL introduce sentence diagramming?
Levels 3 and 4 introduce the student to sentence diagramming. Our optional reference books can be helpful starting at this stage. These books are useful through high school and beyond.
- The Grammar Guidebook (TGG) is a lifetime reference book for you and your student.
- The Diagramming Dictionary (TDD) is a power-assist in teaching sentence diagramming.
- How to Diagram Any Sentence pairs with The Diagramming Dictionary to give further practice in diagramming.
Jessica Otto shows how to diagram four sentences from How to Diagram Any Sentence.
Should I order paperback or PDF? CD or MP3? Scratch and Dent?
FLL titles are available in physical (paperback, CD) or digital (PDF or MP3) format. Sometimes, physical goods are available as Scratch and Dent. Before placing your order, consider the following:
- Some parents are comfortable teaching from a laptop or tablet. In this case, purchasing the Instructor Guide in PDF format or the accompanying audio in MP3 can save you some money--they cost less to start with, there is no shipping fee, and delivery is nearly immediate.
- You can decide whether it is more economical for you to print the Student Workbooks or order the paperbacks and have them shipped; the students will write on most of the pages.
- Scratch and Dent have some scuffs, bent corners on the covers so we can't sell them as new - we price them at a 60% discount. These are content-complete, and they cannot be returned.
Can I see a sample of the curriculum?
Yes! We provide extensive samples of each title on its product page (that’s the webpage you go to in order to purchase the product). Look for the Sample button beneath the cover image. By taking a good look at the samples, you should be able to determine the correct level and the format you wish to use.
Using both WWE and FLL means my student has a lot of narration, dictation, and copy work. Isn’t this overkill?
Yes, it is overkill for a student to complete these exercises in both WWE and FLL. If you use both WWE and FLL, choose the narration, dictation, and copy work from one book or the other.
Narration, dictation, and copy work are foundational to writing and grammar skills, and so we included the instruction in both products because many curricula do not teach these skills.
Where should I start a second-grader?
Start the second-grader at Level 1 and progress through all 4 levels through 5th grade. This plan works well and provides a 6th-grade entry into Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind. Level 2 continues to include the stories, poems, and rhymes from Level 1.
Some people start the second grader on Level 1, and then skip to Level 3 in third grade. Choose whichever works for your family and your student(s).
At what pace should my student complete a Level?
FLL’s scripted lessons take you through each level in a school-year. Remember — the objective is not speed, but mastery. Stick to a schedule; go faster or slower, and don't quit! Steady progress will bring your student to mastery.
Can I use FLL with a middle-school student?
FLL is targeted at students in grades 1-5. A middle-school student (grades 6-8) can benefit from Level 4, but at this age, students can be a bit sensitive to being “downgraded.” Perhaps it is better to use Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind and take it at a pace that allows for mastery. The graphic at the end of this FAQ shows different scenarios for K-12 grammar instruction.
Can I use FLL in a classroom or group-instruction setting?
Yes. We have links to licensing information in this FAQ.
We have completed FLL-4, but we need more sentence diagramming practice.
Take a look at Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind. It has extensive diagramming instruction and practice. (Our diagram illustrator produced more than 450 diagrams for each student workbook.) Don’t give up: in this article, Susan Wise Bauer explains the importance of diagramming. You can progress to Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind, and take it at the pace that brings your student to mastery.
What if I am already committed to another grammar curriculum?
The Grammar Guidebook (TGG), The Diagramming Dictionary (TDD), and How to Diagram Any Sentence provide instructor backup and additional instruction to enhance any grammar curriculum.
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What are the publication dates of the current editions?
- FLL 1: The original edition was published in 2003; the current edition in 2010. Not much changed between the editions; this is the date when we changed FLL 1/2 from being one book to being two separate books — "Level 1" and "Level 2")
- FLL 2: Original edition 2003, current edition 2010
- FLL 3: 2007
- FLL 4: 2008