Thursday, May 8, 2008

How We Use The Bridge to the Latin Road

My friend, Pam, has also been asking me about the The Bridge to the Latin Road

This is a new product that arrived on the market last spring. Because my son had excellent grammar skills, I was considering starting him in LRTEG I this year. He is a brilliant thinker who is easily bored and needs a challenge. Yet he was fearful that Latin would be too challenging for him, even though he wants to study it. My main concern was his ability to do the copy work, which he detests. When we looked at the Bridge last year, we decided to use that this year. It is sold by the same company that sells LRTEG and is the bridge between their phonics program and LRTEG.

Although I do not feel it is essential to do the Bridge before starting LRTEG, I do see some positive results from doing it. The Bridge incorporates lots of dictation into the daily work. DS has learned to hold large chunks of information in his head by copying dictation. At the beginning of the year he struggled to hold a simple sentence in his head. Now he can hold large chunks of information. This ability to hold large chunks of information is a skill rarely used in today’s society. However, our forefathers were able to do this with ease, since they had to rely on auditory skills more than we do today in our visually driven world.

In addition, ds has conquered the copywork issue! It’s still not his favorite thing to do, but he has disciplined himself to copy. This is a kinesthetic aspect to learning that can engage the brain more actively than reading. In addition, he is building an impressive English grammar reference notebook!

The idea behind the Bridge is compared to that of a journeyman, who has learned basic foundational skills as an apprentice in learning phonics, spelling, etc. The word picture used for the journeyman is one of a builder who learns framing codes, scaffolding, framing keys, and design codes. The imagery doesn’t go into detail within the lessons. However, certain "journeyman" terms are used for grammar concepts.

The student gets a notebook, construction pencils (regular, red and blue) and a scaffolding tool (6" ruler).

The notebook is in three parts: Framing Codes, Sentences to Analyze, and Design Codes. The teacher notebook looks the same as the student's, except the pages are the answer keys. Also, the student's pages only have writing on one side, whereas the teacher's pages have writing on both sides.  I think this makes room for the lesson plans and DVDs to be stored.

In front are the lesson plans. In front of that are the DVDs for each week (for the teacher). There are usually only 4 days of lessons in each week. There are 36 weeks of lessons.

The Framing Codes are divided into parts of speech as well as sentences, phrases and clauses. Each day I dictate a definition and then a sentence, which ds copies.

Then he marks and labels, using his red pencil for some special parts. Marking is done differently with different programs. I marked one way in high school, another way with A Beka, and yet a bit differently with the Bridge.  Marking is basically identifying the part of speech of each word, usually with symbols. The value of the marking with the Bridge, is that it is the same marking that will be used in LRTEG when parsing sentences and working on translations. When dd and I started LRTEG some of this marking was new and took a little getting used to, although it was not a problem. It is now second nature to us. Here’s an example of a marked sentence and the diagramming underneath.

In our daily lesson, after ds marks the sentence, he reviews or learns to scaffold, or diagram that part of speech. Then we’ll usually go to the Sentences to Analyze section for more sentences to dictate, copy, mark and scaffold. I’ll dictate 3-6 sentences a day for him to copy, mark and scaffold, reinforcing the concepts he has learned. When scaffolding, the scaffolding tool (ruler) is used to make straight lines. However, my son prefers not to use this. 

The Design Codes are introduced later in the year and teaches Latin prefixes, bases and suffixes. There are vocabulary cards to move around (kinesthetic) to study these. (My son prefers not to use them. His learning style is to talk about everything he does!) There is a regular pencil for the base word, red pencil to copy the prefix and a blue pencil to copy the suffix. (My son does use the pencils!  Hooray!) A few prefixes, bases and suffixes are taught each time. Many of these he will see again in Latin. All of them he learns to use to form nouns or verbs in our daily language. The flash cards are meant to be manipulated to try to form the words from the prefixes and suffixes. He learns about assimilation, when a word part doesn’t match the flash card. This is usually because something like "ob-pose" was difficult to say so it assimilated into "op-pose." This answers the questions he always used to ask me about some of our English spelling rules not lining up! Then there are the word parts that don’t follow the rules because it changed through the French and got tweaked. Spelling has made a lot more sense studying language of origin!

Included are cute grammar tunes to learn the parts of speech. My son doesn’t enjoy these and prefers to get to real work! There is also a set of flash cards to play a verb memory game to learn irregular verb forms, though he wasn’t interested in that either! (You can see these in the photo above of the teacher book and DVDs)    I don't worry about the parts my son doesn't enjoy to learn with.  I like a curriculum that has lots of options.  What doesn't  work for one child might be the hip thing for a later child.  Also I just take a good solid curriculum and match that to how my dc best work.  I think this is the best flexibility of all.  Curriculums can often be tweaked to match a child!  =)

The Bridge is meant for grades 3-6.  It can be a boost before LRTEG I, but it is not essential.  Yes, wonderful skills are taught like dictation, copy work, parsing and diagramming sentences as well as the study of affixes to build vocabulary.  However, if a junior high or high school student was looking at this before starting LRTEG I, I would highly recommend just starting LRTEG I.  My dd and I started LRTEG I before the Bridge even came out.  However, I do feel that any strong grammar program, and there are many, will adequately prepare a child to begin LRTEG I.  =)

Nevertheless, I feel that the best value of the Bridge, is the dictation.  Although we have previously used an excellent grammar program, it was merely a matter of looking at the sentence and parsing it.  The Bridge takes parsing sentences to a higher level of thinking through dictation.  While holding that information in the mind, the brain has to actively engage and interact with the sentence, and the student becomes more aware of what the sentence is actually saying and doing.  This in itself, is precisely what my son needed to be fully prepared to start LRTEG I next school year! 


  1. What a fantastic explanation Laurie! I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to think this all through and share your thoughts here. And the great pics too! It gives me a much better idea of how it works, and its strengths, etc. After reading this I know it would be a good fit for my oldest son, but I'm praying about timing. When it would work best for him to start. Thanks again for sharing your experience! I appreciate you!



  2. This might be a good start for us if we go this route.

  3. MayTheyBeMightyMenMay 11, 2008 at 5:21 AM

    Now that's a thorough review! The program looks really, really good. I want to keep this one in mind for future reference, since I've toyed with Latin for the kids. I wasn't sure it would be all that helpful, but this is sort of "two birds one rock" in theory. Thanks for sharing!