Monday, October 21, 2013

Bridgeway English - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

In September I was delighted to learn that we had been selected to review Bridgeway English: Expanding Foundations. Building Success.--a remedial high school English program by Bridgeway Academy

I really wanted to try out this program because I was concerned that my son's grammar skills might be lacking. We haven't focused on Grammar,
ever, for a full year. We have only gotten in a little grammar here, a little there, and I was concerned that his grasp of the information was insufficient for where he should be as he approaches his first year of high school. He is older, for an 8th grader, and I was also interested in knocking out one of his high school English credits early. We might graduate him early, the year he will turn 18, rather than require him to be in high school until he is almost 19. He intends to go to college, and I don't want to postpone his "adulthood" any longer than necessary.

I was so happy that I was permitted to review the complete program. For purposes of this review I received Bridgeway English Book 1 Focus on Grammar; Bridgeway English Book 2 Focus on Writing; and Bridgeway English Key.

These are beautiful, high quality books! I was a little concerned, at first, over the cover theme. My son can get an attitude about this--he has in the past! The cover has a predominant pink to it, and all the photos on all three covers are female! However, since the books are on nice, high-quality plastic spirals, and the pages are printed on high-quality paper, it hasn't been an issue. Once each book is open it just stays open to the last lesson covered. Sometimes, if you do that with a spiral that gets slid and stacked with lots of other books, the paper tears along the spiral. This has not happened at all, and we've been using these for going on two months!

As you can determine from the titles, the two books divide the course into a semester focused on grammar and a semester focused on writing. As you open each book up, the first page gives clear instructions on how to begin the program. #1: Remove the tests from the back of the book and store them in a safe place, to be given to the student at the appropriate time (at the end of each unit). It tells you important information about how the books are laid out - each unit's pages start over at page 1, and how to use the program for best results.

I was surprised that none of the books in Bridgeway English have Tables of Contents. The units don't even actually have names! I will flip through the books for you, though, and let you know what the various units cover by telling you each unit's objectives. Each unit is then broken into sections to accomplish the objectives.. In Bridgeway English Book 1 Focus on Grammar  the units are:
  • Pak 1: Objectives are to familiarize students with subjects, predicates, four types of sentences, and enable them to be able to identify sentence fragments, run-on sentences, and compound sentences.
  • Pak 2:  Objectives are to identify different kinds of nouns; identify four noun functions; and to identify four other noun functions.
  • Pak 3: Objectives are to identify pronouns and know their different functions; identify objective and subjective pronouns; and identify the different types of pronouns.
  • Pak 4: Objectives are to identify adjectives, adverbs, and then be able to tell the difference between adjectives and adverbs.
  • Pak 5: Objectives are to identify prepositions and prepositional phrases; identify conjunctions (coordinating, subordinating and correlative); and identify interjections.
  • Pak 6: Objectives are to review: identification of subjects and predicates in sentences; the four types of sentences; sentence fragments and run-on sentences and compound sentences; kinds of nouns and their purposes; pronouns and their antecedents; adjectives and adverbs; and prepositions, conjunctions and interjections.
  • Pak 7: Objectives are to know the difference between dependent and independent clauses; to identify simple and compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences; and to learn and practice subject-verb agreement in sentences.
  • Pak 8: Objectives are to distinguish action verbs from linking verbs; to identify the verbs and verb phrases in sentences; to list the principal parts of verbs; to use irregular verbs correctly; to identify participles, gerunds, and infinitives; and to review the eight parts of speech.
  • Pak 9: Objectives are to know the rules of capitalization; to know the rules of punctuation; and to be able to proofread and edit for capitalization and punctuation errors.
  • Pak 10: Objectives are to write friendly letters, thank-you notes, and bread-and-butter letters; to write business letters and letters of request; to address envelopes; to write and send faxes, e-mails, cover letters, and memos; and to fill out forms correctly and completely.
  • Pak 11: Objectives are to study efficiently; to use good test-taking skills; to use critical thinking and reasoning skills; to recognize prejudiced language; and to learn to tell the difference between fact and fiction.
  • Pak 12: Objectives are to review: identification of subjects and predicates in sentences; the four types of sentences, sentence fragments, and run-on sentences; kinds of nouns and their functions; pronouns and their antecedents; adjectives and adverbs; prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections; dependent and independent clauses; simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences; principle parts of regular and irregular verbs; verbals; capitalization and punctuation rules; writing letters; and studying, critical thinking, and reasoning skills.
What I liked:
  • This program is set up so the student can use them independently -- very little teacher work involved. The "Note to Instructor" calls this "self-instructional" and "motivational", and mentions the program follows a "mastery cycle", which I can definitely see as I look at the objectives of the units.
  • My son really liked them. There was no complaining. He jumped right in and sunk his teeth into the content of both books. 
  • Each day's assignment had a clear beginning and end.
  • Each unit had a review and a test that the student is, theoretically, able to complete successfully if the unit's work has been done, checked, corrected and reviewed.
  • Using this program, I have confidence. I am clear where my son stands. I know that when we finish the program I can give my son credit for one year of high school English.
  • The content is fun and engaging, and uses all sorts of "carrots" to dangle to help my son enjoy learning not only the goal of each individual unit, but also tidbits of information about a variety of subjects that he will find fun and enjoyable.

What this program showed me:
  • First, I was delighted to actually know what my son knows and what he still needs to work on.
  • My son is still lazy. He will still try to get away without answering questions, and will then tell me he has done his work for the day.
  • I am still lazy. I'd like to be able to tell him to do his day's work, and I would like to not have to check his work daily.
  • When I, the teacher, am diligent, and require my son to be diligent, this program will enable my son to have success in English. This program is amazingly packed full of everything he needs to cover and know to graduate high school!
 How the program worked for us:
  • I have been delighted with this program. I have really enjoyed having concise lessons in grammar and writing to assign to my son, that (once he knew I was firmly requiring of him) he does willingly and well (for the most part).
  • I now have confidence that I am going to cover what we need to cover this year, and I am so happy with this program I'm about to bust.
What I am still curious about:
  • I am still somewhat concerned as to whether this course is all that a high school student needs to do for a one-year credit of high school English. We home schoolers tend to require more of our students than is humanly possible, but I still wonder if that one credit I give should also include Literature assignments. Because our plans already include a course that includes Literature assignments that dove-tail with the History assignments, this is not an issue for us personally this year, but I am still curious. And on the one side, I am convinced that the content herein is enough, but on the other side I have always included Literature as part of the High School English credits. I am just still curious about this, and now I feel like I am repeating myself.
My final words:
  • Each unit of each book has from 35 to 45 pages, and each book has six units.
  • This program is designed as a "remedial" program. That means that if you, like me, have not done a grammar program every year, year after year, this program is a good idea for your student. If, however, you have not been neglecting your grammar, this material may have sections that bore your student.
  • That said, I have to give this plug: this program is so amazingly complete that I am so glad it is a good fit for my family. If you can get a chance to look at a copy, you might decide to use this one year even if your student has been doing English Grammar regularly. There is material in this program that I consider essential to college success and adult success that I have not seen adequately covered in other programs. And the content is so well covered, so well handled, that I don't think many people would go wrong to choose to use it.
  • This material is geared toward high school students. Some 7th and 8th grade students will be able to handle this material as well. My student is in 8th grade. When I was his age I was in 9th grade, but the state attendance ages changed and they bumped students with late birthdays back a year. However, 8th graders are allowed to take high school credits (in my state) and count them on their high school transcripts, so that is what we are doing.
  • The prices on these materials are very reasonable: Book 1 Focus on Grammar is priced at $23.33; Book 2 Focus on Writing is priced at $23.33; and the Bridgeway English Key is also priced at $23.33.
I wanted to include more photos, but although I have taken them on my phone's camera, I can't get Blogger to find them when I try. I might alter this entry later to include more photos.
The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew reviewed not only Bridgeway English, but also on-line classes offered by Bridgeway Academy. To read more of these Crew reviews, please click on the icon below.

I received Bridgeway English Book 1 Focus on Grammar; Bridgeway English Book 2 Focus on Writing; and Bridgeway English Key for free from Bridgeway Academy in exchange for my honest review. I received no other compensation.


  1. Can someone tell me the difference between an irregular verb the exact meaning in bridgeway english book 2 please ?

    1. Well, I'm not able to look at it right this moment, but I'll try to give you an answer soon.