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What's the Word? Volume I Review by Cindy West

Hyla Swesnik
Vocabulary Enterprises, L.C.
4951 Airport Parkway, Suite 540
Addison, TX 75001

What a fun, quick way to learn and test new vocabulary! Written for teens and adults, this program uses a video, workbook exercises, and flashcards to build a strong vocabulary. The author believes that the visual, oral, and "in context" teaching helps students to better retain what they learn. She also believes that reading comprehension levels can drastically improve as vocabulary grows, and that a strong vocabulary is key in doing well on ACT and SAT tests.

The video that comes with the program includes songs, silly skits, and illustrations to paint memory pictures of the words in the student's mind. The flashcards also include visual clues (from the video) as to the word's meaning, along with definitions, the word used in a sentence, and a list of synonyms, antonyms, and what are called "brainers" (words that aren't necessarily synonyms but are similar or along the same lines of the vocabulary word).

It is suggested that the student watch the video first, then do the exercises in the workbook, and then review all the words learned so far using the flashcards. The workbook contains 29 units. Each unit covers three to nine vocabulary words. For each word there is a pronunciation guide, a definition, and one or more sentences that include the word.

Following the words and definitions, you will find two to four pages of activities to practice the new vocabulary. Multiple choice, true and false, fill in the blank, circle the correct answer, matching, and circle the word that doesn't fit are examples of the types of activities you can expect. An answer key may come with the set, but there was none sent in my package.

After every ten units, there is a cumulative review or test. It covers all of the words learned thus far and uses activities similar to the ones mentioned above. In all, with 29 units and three tests, there are 32 lessons. Also found in the workbook is a quick glossary of the words in ABC order with a short definition and a reference to the word's location in the book.

The vocabulary introduced is quite good. Some vocabulary programs simply don't teach much new vocabulary, but I bet you'll find this one teaches many words that will be new to your children. Rout, copious, replete, patently, predilection, pestilential, sycophant, and conflagration are just a few examples. Do you know what some of those words mean, mom? I know many of the words were new to me!

If you're looking for a quick yet serious vocabulary program for a child in 7th grade or higher, this would be a good choice. It's especially good for learners who need more than just a workbook in order to fully grasp the concept. There are three volumes to the entire set, which is a bit pricey. But if your child works through all three volumes, using one lesson a week, the program would last three school years. And your child would have a tremendous vocabulary!

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2008