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Wordup! The Vocab Show, Volume 1 DVD Review by Tess Hamre and Jacquelin Caffey

Starring Dwane Thomas
Compass Classroom
609 West Iris Drive
Nashville, TN 37204
http://www.compassclassroom.com

WordUp! is a new video series that teaches over 200 English vocabulary words using Greek and Latin words. Volume 1 contains 10 lessons. Each lesson is set up as if it is a television show. It reminded me of a nightly news show with the Well-Educated Host as the anchor and the Latin and Greek Experts as reporters on location.

The first episode explains the set up. Dwane Thomas has finished Visual Latin and Compass Classroom wants to him to do another series. He wants to travel. He doesn’t want to do another DVD series. He agrees that he will help by providing an English word for each episode.

Each episode then opens with Dwane in a different location. Dwane gives commentary about what he’s doing and then says something like “Oh, you want a word.” He looks around and chooses a word. Some locations and words include:  at the beach: water; in London with Big Ben: time; in a cave; earth.

The Well-Educated Host is caught complaining about Dwane, recovers when he sees the camera is rolling and welcomes the audience. He directs attention to the Latin expert. When the Latin Expert is finished, the Well-Educated Host is once again caught complaining about Dwane Thomas. He recovers nicely, comments on the Latin words and directs audience to the Greek Expert. Each show ends with the Well-Educated Host trying to show up Dwane Thomas and often failing. The humor comes from the ironic twist that all characters are performed by Dwane Thomas.

This is a fun and entertaining way to learn English words with Latin and Greek roots. Dwane makes jokes, laughs at himself, and packs each 15-17 minute episode with more than just 20 English words. Some English words come from more than one Latin root. Those roots are not ignored or glossed over. Dwane explains them as well. He explains what each part of the word means in Latin, demonstrates how they work together, and then shares how the word is used in English. One of my favorite words is problem. Pro is not one of the Latin roots overtly taught, but Dwane explains that it means ‘before’. Blem comes from the Latin word meaning ‘to throw’. So a problem is something that is thrown before you. In English we think of problems as trouble so a problem is trouble thrown in front of you.

The DVD also includes a suggested sequence for using these lessons: watch the video, visit the website for online flashcards, games, and quizzes, and review as needed. This website is on the DVD cover, displayed at the end of every episode and is included in the How to Use This section on the main menu. For younger students using this, it would be very easy to take two weeks to complete the vocabulary from each episode. The Latin is separate from the Greek so it is easy to focus just on the Latin words for week 1 and then on the Greek words for week 2. Throw in review weeks every two to three episodes and this 10 episode DVD with the online flashcards, games and quizzes becomes enough material for 25 weeks! You could even slow it down a bit more, taking 3 weeks to cover some lessons and stretch it out for a full school year. 

For older students, covering one lesson per week with a review week every one to two episodes would be a good pace to finish the DVD in one semester.

This program is suggested for ages 10 and up. Both my teens and I found it fun, engaging, and educational. I knew that urban means city but I didn’t know that urb came from the Latin for city! I also learned that I live in a rurban, an area that is chiefly residential but with farms inside or just outside of the city. I recommend this program for building word knowledge and vocabulary.

—Product Review by Tess Hamre, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2015

Another Review:

Vocabulary, it’s everywhere and in everything we do. I am a bit of a word nerd. I like to learn new words and use them on my family and increase their word nerdiness too. Expanding one’s vocabulary is not just important for standardized testing for my children but also for reading comprehension when tackling those tough classic readers. That’s why I am so glad I could review the WordUp! Volume 1 with my 8th grader. She is not big into learning vocabulary words the old-fashioned way. You know, flashcards and drilling.  That works for me and my other children but not her. She needs that visual connection and that is just what we get with the WordUp! – The Vocab Show.

The product we received is one of the physical CD’s but the program is also available as a download or through streaming. All formats of the program include instruction from Mr. Dwane Thomas, of Visual Latin, and he puts on quite a show! In an entertaining, fast-paced zany visual method Mr. Thomas teaches Latin and Greek roots, as well as hundreds of English words derived from the Latin and Greek roots. It currently retails for $25.00 but is on sale for just $19.00 right now.

Each of the 10 video lessons run approximately 15-20 minutes in length and feature 10 words derived from Greek roots and 10 word derived from Latin roots. To fit the program into my daughter’s busy schedule around gymnastic training we opted to tackle one lesson every two weeks. On her long training days Monday and Fridays, she would watch the lesson during school hours at the gym on her laptop. The next day, normally Tuesdays she would draw a picture flashcard of the word while on Wednesdays and Thursdays she would utilize the Quizlet program that comes standard with the program. Fridays were for reviewing the video lesson, while Saturday evening I would test her on the vocabulary for the lesson with a written test. The following week would repeat the same schedule but with the second half of the words. This method has worked well for us. It is easy enough to slow down if needed, but overall we have found this to be just the right pacing she needs to learn and retain the information without overwhelming her.

I can’t say enough good things about this vocabulary program! We have tried many, many programs over the past 8 years and this one is helping my reluctant learner increase her vocabulary knowledge in literature and science. I really like that the Quizlet portion of the program is available for mobile devices. My daughter always has her phone with her, so that means she can download the app from the App store and do her lessons on the go without having to travel with her laptop. This will be perfect with our upcoming travel season. If you think this may be a good fit for your student be sure to download the free lesson and see what you think. You can’t go wrong with free and I am sure you will be hooked from the start!

-Product review by Jacquelin Caffey, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2017

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