Language Arts

We want students to “read well, speak well, and think well.” This means that we want them to understand and internalize how language works both at the level of individual words (their roots, conjugations and declensions), but also the parts of speech. These are the building blocks of argument.

Reading well therefore means reading efficiently, but it also means reading insightfully. The study of language and stories is therefore an introduction to basic human questions. Students should learn how to question a story and be questioned by it. With the right literature, even young students can be made to consider the ‘worthiness’ of a character’s choices, the consequences of their actions, and the importance of truth. They can be asked to consider whether a story or a character is fair or just, whether it is beautiful and why. What are the elements of this and its effect? Does it make the student happy or sad? Can a story be beautiful and sad? They can begin to recognize the significance of symbols and foreshadowing.

The study and recitation of poetry should be used to cultivate memory and the skills that go along with recitation, but poetry should also be treated as a form of vision and a window into truth.

The study of language and literature should complement the study of history and culture by providing a window into them, e.g., in showing how the theme of life as a dangerous journey ‘home’ in Homer and Virgil is decisively taken up and transformed in Christianity and expressed in a millennium of Christian literary and visual art.

The study of Latin (and Greek, if possible) should complement the study of history, religion, and English grammar.

Lower Elementary (Lower Grammar)


-Phonics and reading


-Beginning writing

-Beginning grammar

-Beginning poetic understanding

-Latin roots (chants), early vocabulary, phrases, prayers

-Learn to read proficiently

-Develop reading comprehension

-Employ correct grammar in writing and speech

- Learn good penmanship, using proper technique, and beginning cursive

- Recognize and write complete sentences

- Memorize and recite the definition of the parts of speech

- Understand and identify parts of speech and the four different types of sentences

- Say and write the days of the week, the seasons, the months of the year, their home

address, titles of respect, abbreviations, dates

- Understand and use beginning punctuation, contractions, capital letters, synonyms,


- Be able to order simple ideas, form paragraphs, and copy the final work

- Narration: re-tell stories in detail, with vocal clarity, poise, and eye contact; eventually,

re-tell the narrative thread of a story

- Act out stories with other students as characters

- Develop ability identify main idea

- Answer comprehension questions about a reading passage in complete sentences

- Copywork: copy sentences from works of history, the Bible, or literature

- Dictation: listen to an oral recitation and write down a sentence(s) from works of

history, the Bible, or literature

- Recitation: recite poems or psalms from memory with vocal clarity, poise, eye contact

- Conversation: ‘Socratic’ discussions should teach students to begin questioning and

discussing stories, pictures, fables or proverbs according to four rules: 1. Read the text

carefully. 2. Listen to what others say and don’t interrupt. 3. Speak clearly. 4. Give

others your respect.

- Perform a play and memorize lines

- Develop capacity for listening

- Develop memory

- Appreciate playfulness in language

- Develop habits of concentration, stillness, memory

- Learn to ask questions about the moral or meaning of stories and symbols

- Learn to speak directly and confidently

Upper Elementary (Upper Grammar)

- Acquire familiarity with classic folklore and literature of the historical periods they study

- Begin to master grammar

- Begin to analyze and diagram sentences

- Write complete sentences and paragraphs

- Acquire facility in spelling and vocabulary

- Have a repertoire of light verse, Psalms, ballads and historical mnemonic devices

committed to memory

- Memorize the fundamentals of Latin: primary declensions, conjugations, and vocabulary

- Memorize Latin prayers, hymns, and phrases

- Be able to use prefixes, suffixes, and root words as clues to meaning

- Be able to read chapter books without help

- Recognize plot, theme, symbolism, and other literary elements

- Evaluate characters in stories

- Ability to identify the main idea of a story

- Write complete sentences and construct coherent paragraphs

- Read and write summaries of readings

- Practice good penmanship, especially cursive

- Write paragraphs and recognize topic sentences

- Identify conflict, clima-, and resolution in a story

- Write an organized, multi-paragraph composition in sequential order with a central idea

- Research a topic using multiple books

- Ability to understand more complex poetry

- Narration: re-tell more complex stories in detail, with vocal clarity, poise, and eye contact

- Construct simple stories

- Be able to read aloud with good inflection and diction

- Recitation: students recite poems, speeches, psalms from memory with vocal clarity,

poise, eye contact

- Conversation: students should understand and be able to follow rules for 'Socratic'

discussions; students should be questioning and discussing various te-ts.

- Follow four rules of discussion: 1. Read the text carefully. 2. Listen to what others say

and don’t interrupt. 3. Speak clearly. 4. Give others your respect.

- Perform a play: memorize lines and help design costumes, props, set, etc.

- Listen attentively to peers and instructor

- Read and concentrate for long periods of time

- Learn to ask questions about the moral or meaning of stories and symbols

- Learn to speak directly and confidently

- Be basically truthful and dependable

Middle School (Logic Stage)

- Understand literature as a reflection of history and culture

- Understand literature and poetry as vehicles for the revelation of truth

- Understand literature as culture’s way of seeking and manifesting truth, goodness, and


- Learn to think poetically

- Know the elements of good speaking in order to speak truthfully, persuasively,

beautifully, and well

- Possess a command of English grammar

- Recognize a variety of writing styles and how to employ them

- Understand the elements of argument

- Acquire a basic facility in reading, praying, and translating Latin

- Ponder the relationship between the Word of God (Christ), the word of God (Scripture),

and the words we use

- Make connections to related topics, especially history and religion

- Identify and evaluate the effectiveness of tone, style, and use of language

- Analyze the effects of elements such as plot, theme, characterization, style, mood, and


- Discuss the effects of such literary devices as figurative language, dialogue, flashback,

allusion, irony, and symbolism

- Analyze and evaluate themes and central ideas in literature

- Recognize relevance of literary themes to contemporary problems and one’s own life

- Analyze relationships between characters, ideas, and e-periences

- Discern an implied main idea, draw an inference, and recognize how different te-ts

address the same fundamental human questions

- Deepen the ability to question the te-t and characters

- Develop ability to discuss literature intelligently and insightfully with proper grammar

and diction

Master all facets of English grammar, demonstrable through the ability to diagram sentences

Properly express the relationship of ideas in a sentence, paragraph, and essay

Recognize and correct stylistic errors such as sentence fragments and run-on sentences

For Narrative Writing:

  • Write original narrative and descriptive passages
  • Write coherent and logical prologues, epilogues, sequels, dialogues or alternative endings for fiction and nonfiction
  • Incorporate effective narrative techniques into a short story focusing on the following:
  • Point of view (first person, third person)
  • Setting, including time and place
  • Character development
  • Elements of plot structure

For Descriptive Writing:

  • Write descriptive passages focusing on one of the following: person, place,   object, event, works of art, plants and animals
  • Use evocative imagery (vivid words, active voice verbs, colorful modifiers)
  • Use figurative language (e.g., simile, metaphor, personification, allusion)

For Persuasive Writing:

  • Develop a rhetorically persuasive, logical writing style
  • Develop a thesis that makes a disputable claim
  • Support a thesis with logically organized and relevant evidence
  • Develop and logically support a position addressing reader concerns and
  • Counter-arguments

For Analytical/Expository Writing:

  • Develop interpretations exhibiting careful reading, understanding, and insight
  • Organize interpretations around several clear ideas, premises, or images
  • Develop a thesis that makes a disputable claim
  • Make an argument for the thesis providing reasons, details, and examples
  • Write a response to literature demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the text and justifying the interpretation through use of examples and textual evidence
  • Begin to explore the connections among characters, incident, setting, symbol, and conflict
  • Write a character analysis

- Learn the basics of logical reasoning

- Learn and identify logical structures, logical fallacies, and biases in speeches and various non-fiction texts

- Express own arguments logically and clearly through speech and the written word

- Master basic declensions, conjugations, and simple grammar

- Possess a solid vocabulary

- Memorize Latin prayers, hymns, and liturgical responses

- Know how to translate complex sentences and short stories from Latin to English

- Compose sentences in Latin

- Perform a play, preferably Shakespeare or a Greek tragedy

- Analyze and discuss characters and their motivations

- Design costumes, props, and set

- Develop a love of reading and of language

- Appreciate the beauty, playfulness, and logical possibilities of language

- Explore own ideas through writing

- Draw on literature for deeper self-knowledge

- Habitually look to poetry and literature as vehicles of truth

- Deepen love for listening to stories

- Deepen habits of concentration, stillness, and memory

- Develop ability to penetrate literature and plumb the depths of its meaning

- Nurture the habit of listening

- Foster sustained concentration