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Say What You Mean for Teens: A Communication Study for Jr. and Sr. High Students Review by Kathy Gelzer

JoJo Tabares
Art of Eloquence
8270 Monroe Ave.
Hesperia CA 92344
866-477-3324
http://www.artofeloquence.com/

Communication skills are undeniably crucial, but we homeschoolers may not reflect that significance with our curriculum choices or our school schedule. Other "more important" subjects fill our day. After reading and using Say What You Mean for Teens, I believe communication education is no longer an option; it is an obligation. Say What You Mean for Teens is a non-consumable 81/2 by 11-inch spiral-bound paperback book. It is a semester long (18-week) communication program. The Course Outline serves as a table of contents. Page numbers corresponding to each week's lesson would be helpful here. All the student and teacher information is included in the book--no additional manuals or materials are needed. Each chapter contains a lesson written in a conversational tone, in the second person, to the student. Humorous anecdotes are sprinkled throughout to illustrate the points, making the book most interesting. Lessons are about one to three pages long. Following this text is a series of assignments or exercises. You can pick and choose among them, according to need or interest. Some are written exercises; others are verbal or "experiential." These embrace the learning style of every student. I was pleased to see quite a bit of emphasis given to nonverbal communication, proper etiquette, social skills, and active-listening. One chapter focuses on job interviews. Starting in week eight, a persuasive speech or written report (your choice) is begun. Each subsequent lesson includes mini steps toward completing this speech/report. At the end of the book is a certificate of achievement for parents to fill out.

One lesson should be completed per week. The author suggests you read the lesson early in the week and complete the exercises later in the week. Students could certainly go through this book by themselves, but parents who like keeping their noses in their children's studies will enjoy reading the lessons together with their children. There are so many excellent discussion opportunities and examples that will jog your memory with a personal story to share, which can help cement concepts in your child's brain.

This curriculum is designed especially for the homeschool family. It is very Christian in its approach. King James Scripture quotes start off each lesson, and the lessons and exercises themselves focus on Christ-like behavior and attitudes with overall life application. Although the program is written for junior and senior highers, the author writes in the introduction that an advanced 5th or 6th grader could use it, and I would agree.

I do wish that the speech-writing segment of the book included some ideas for involving the audience. I know this is not always appropriate to the situation, but there are quite a few speeches I've heard where excellent use was made of audience participation. I think this is a good technique to teach.

A few notes for parents: the author has a particular slant on witnessing which she shares as her opinion. It's more of a soft-sell, inoffensive approach. Also, while the author is quick to point out that Hitler was an evil man who misused his speaking abilities, he is listed as an example of a persuasive speaker.

We are communicating to others all the time in ways we may not even realize. This program is full of excellent lessons we all want our children to learn. And the speech assignment helps students learn a vital skill in a way that is easy for both student and teacher. Say What You Mean For Teens is a great way to teach communication skills!

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2007

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