Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Uncovering The Logic Of English: A Review

I went to the Allume Conference back in October, Hurricane Sandy hit and threw me all off schedule. Then I was prepping for a family reunion while my best friend I hadn't seen in years was in town for most of November. Then Christmas hit and I couldn't take the break I wanted... It seems to me the months are slipping away!! I have so wanted to share my new found love for this book but it kept getting put back on the shelf.

When I was a kid my dad was forced to remove the Latin class in our high school. I recall asking him what he was going to do with the Latin teacher and he said "Oh don't worry she can teach English." HUH?  That confused me for a long time and I eventually put it out of my mind. When I read Uncovering The Logic of English By Denise Eide I suddenly realized it made sense. "Of course a Latin teacher could teach English!"

When I sat through the Allume Tea on this book, I was on the verge of tears for most of her talk. I was so emotional, it was answering questions I had been contemplating for years!  As a dyslexic I often can not get the spell checker to even figure out what word I am trying to type. When I was in college, getting a word processor with a spell check feature, and my roommate taking pity on me and typing my papers into it, single handedly brought my grades up to the Deans List. Thanks Nadine! 

My dad once told me "Don't worry about it, just write it out and fix it later." It was great advice. The problem was, later I often couldn't see what the errors were. The whole it looks right/wrong" approach to spelling never ever worked for me.

Uncovering the Logic of English has been changing the way I  look at words.  After reading the book I found myself spelling "tomarrow" the way I've been spelling it wrong for years... but now when I do that, my brain is yelling at me that sound in the middle is not an A it's and O!!!  Instead of right clicking I change it to-->  "tomorrow."   Behold I have now spelled it correctly... what no cookie? I still have no idea which rule is stuck in my brain that is telling me how to fix this word. I'm just really dog gone happy it is fixing itself. In fact I almost cried last week when I spelled scissors correctly. I have been avoiding this word FOREVER. Truly I would stoop to using "shears" because the spelling of scissors was so elusive.  Here I am a grown adult suddenly absorbing the rules in this book, things I never noticed in spelling are now popping out of the woodwork.

In Unit 20 of CTC we were covering metrics in math. I love metrics, so orderly. My child was stuck on centimeter. She could not understand there were 100 of them in a meter. In the chapter Efficient Spelling and Vocabulary Development (pg 136). The author states "Understanding basic roots provides a context for learning the technical language of science outside of rote memorization."  The examples in the book came flooding into my mind.  Sweet Potato as you all know is a concrete thinker. If I could use a word she understands to hang this concept on, I knew I could get it to stick. (I also realized the person who instilled a love of how words flow together came from my dad, I had one of those momentary flash backs to walking up the backyard hill with him explaining how words related to one another).   So in the middle of math/metrics I took out the allowance jar and started digging out pennies. I got a big pile of them in front of me and said "O.K. Sweet Potato here are 100 cents. How many cents to a dollar?"
She replied "100."
I pulled more words out "How many soldiers under a centurion?
She replied "100."
I told her "There are 100 years in a century... How many years?
She replied "100."
Then I asked "How many centimeters in a meter?
She exclaimed "100!!  I get it mom!"
Ding ding ding we have a winner. We even covered decade, deciliter  Deca/deci =10.

Ever since I read this book I find my teaching style has experienced a metamorphosis. When the words in the kids dictation have soft "c" I explain it. I now point out why some silent e's are not making the vowel say it's name because it is there for another reason. Tho in no way have I absorbed all those Silent E rules. My mind still boggles over 9 rules governing silent E! Knowing that there are 8 other rules governing 50% of silent E words helps me make sense of all those quote, unquote exceptions! Oh and I have stopped spelling sense wrong now I realize there is a S not a C in it. What still no cookie? You guys cannot comprehend my little victories can you :-p   

I love her idea for exaggeration the mispronunciation for spelling purposes only on words that do not follow phonics. That is much easier to remember than my word picture of the Lochness monster in a bus... to spell business.  Part of me wonders if I had been taught this stuff would I have been a better speller... but then if I had been taught this stuff would I have paid attention?

I adore the free links where she explains so much stuff.
Here too>

Now when My child struggles with a word while reading I'm dragging my Logic of English book off the shelf and figuring out which rule were not getting. If my explanation is just confusing her, I look it up and watch a video, She is usually looking over my shoulder and is exclaiming "Now I get it!"

I love how this book is changing me, I'm so much less frustrated with myself as I blog. I enjoy blogging but when you can make as many as 5 spelling errors a sentence, it can be very frustrating to write.  ("Sentenceanother word that no longer trips me up! whoo hooo) My misspellings impede my thoughts and flow of writing, but more and more due to the rules in this book I can spot the error of my ways and correct it, without right clicking. Which typically resulted in more frustration as the word I was trying to spell wasn't on the list! 

I think this book is a great read for anyone teaching children to read or spell! I'm now wondering how I can get my hands on some cash to buy her curriculum.  I know at least one mom I'm going to recommend it to. Her kiddo is a year ahead in Grammar for Heart of Dakota, and she doesn't want him to take a year off from English.  I know I would learn as much if not more than my children from a course in the Logic of English. I never thought I could be excited about English that most dreaded of High School classes. I think I now understand why I was weeping through her talk at Allume. I now have hope that I can truly learn to spell. Maybe one day I will no longer be totally at the mercy of "spell checker."


  1. This is just beautiful! I definitely have a new book on my wish list :)

  2. This is a great and very helpful post. I just borrowed this book from a friend and am encouraged to read it now and see how I can help my kiddo's and myself understand this spelling thing for the English language. Being a foreigner in this country myself, I do not have any trouble spelling, but one of my kiddo's does not hear the sounds and he has a slight speech impairment lingering. Of course my accent does not help him at all.
    Thanks again.

    1. I have noticed one of my children has troubles with hearing certain sounds when her inner ear has an infection, or is just clogged. Don't be afraid to ask your kiddos Doctor for a Tympanogram to rule that out of the equation.