Language Mechanic

February 7, 2011
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Language Mechanic

Content: Grammar
Grade(s): 4th – 7th
Perspective: Secular
Prep Time: Minimal
Teacher Manual: N/A
Teacher Involvement: Minimal
Cost: $
Pages: 172
Publication Date: 2001
Publisher: www.criticalthinking.com
Date of Review: 11/13/2013

If you’ve got a quirky kid who likes logic, enjoys word humor, and picks language rules up quickly, then Language Mechanic may be a good grammar curriculum for your family.

Each individual lesson begins with an attention “grabber” – a basic fact which is then followed by three sentences: You Write; Reader’s Think; and You Mean (to say). The sentences illustrate a specific grammar rule and demonstrate how it can be misused or misunderstood. A simple grayscale drawing accompanies the sentences to help draw out the humor.

A logic box follows, explicitly stating the grammar rule and why it works. Students then complete the Practice items with an adult before attempting the Your Turn section. End-of-lesson Challenge questions can be saved for the next day to reinforce the grammar rule. All told, individual lessons should take no more than 15-20 minutes.

Each chapter concludes with a Unit Review, which you can use as a quiz, if you like. These 1-2 page review sheets offer editing practice, as students are challenged to find grammatical mistakes. The author directs readers to use an improvised set of proofreading marks, such as circles and arrows for errors. Homeschool parents, however, may want to introduce the more traditional proofreading notations with these lessons.

Chapter Summary:

1- Capitalization
2- Run-Ons and Fragments
3- Pronouns
4- Modifiers
5- Verbs

6- Agreement
7- Unnecessary Words
8- Punctuation: ‘ ? ! “”
9- Punctuation: Comma
10- Friendly Letter
11- Spelling and Vocabulary

Because the logical explanations in Language Mechanic are so clearly written, it might seem tempting to hand off this workbook to your 10-year old to complete on their own. I would suggest not doing that.

This book does a great job of showing how the nuances of language can turn a well-meaning intention into a silly sentence. But, nuances are just that – very small differences that can be easily overlooked. Spending 5 or 10 minutes reviewing the “grabber” and the practice items in each lesson will ensure that your child fully grasps the logic behind the grammar rule.

Language Mechanic is especially well-suited for reluctant writers or children who have difficulty with handwriting. Questions within each lesson require a combination of circling the correct choice to complete a sentence, matching, filling in boxes, and the occasional writing out of complete sentences. Children who take longer to understand language concepts may not benefit from this grammar curriculum, as it doesn’t provide enough practice items that they may need.

Creating a grammar curriculum for a broad range of ages, such as 4th – 7th grade, is difficult. Language Mechanic does a great job of teaching the topics it does cover, however certain grammar concepts are missing – such as prepositions. In addition, you may find yourself looking for supplemental information and exercises to reinforce adverbs and commonly misused words (ex- lay/lie).

A teacher’s manual is not available for Language Mechanic. Reading through the Introduction, however, will be extremely useful for understanding how you can get the most out of this book. In addition to general tips on implementing the lessons, you’ll also find extension ideas for each chapter “unit”. Answers for all questions can be found in the back of the book.


About the Author:
Language Mechanic was written by Margaret Hockett.


Because one opinion is never enough! Have you ever used The Language Mechanic? How did it work for your family? Share your review below.







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3 Comments

  • LC September 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    I thought this book would be great to help my daughter work on topics she needed help with like run on sentences, possessive pronouns, apostrophes, etc. Unfortunately, the book is riddled with awkward sentences and examples. I even found a few mistakes so we didn’t finish the book.

  • Kylar Kenney June 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    What I liked about this workbook is that each grammar/language rule has a box that tells you very explicitly what the rule is and why it works. I also liked the paragraphs where the kids had to catch the mistakes and correct them. It’s always easier to look for someone else’s mistakes. What I didn’t like is that it felt like there weren’t enough questions to really practice what you just learned. Also, the text on the pages felt crammed in. I think the workbook could have used better formatting with extra white space. I would use a blank piece of construction paper to cover up sentences so we could focus on the ones we were working on. In the end, I’d recommend this workbook.

  • Julie February 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    This workbook has worked great with my dysgraphic son. It is to the point and effective. Learning is done by correcting passages, but there is not a lot of busywork.

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