For years I have recognized the need for a pre-Level 1 class for students who are not language-ready for the work of Level 1. Many students struggle with language arts for various reasons and need extra preparation. Some have language-based learning disorders, such as dyslexia. Others simply have not stored enough language experience in their brains, through listening to and reading correct language. Often, it is a mix of both.

One of my own children had extreme difficulties with reading and writing. When he was in second grade, I stumbled upon a wonderful method of memorization. That began our journey of “the road less traveled” in language arts. I credit our years of memorization with a large part of his ultimate success; the other component was the steady building of writing skills through IEW. Today he is an outstanding reader and he writes his own blog posts for his piano technician business!

Like my son in those early days, many students who struggle in Level 1 don’t seem to have the sound of correct language stored in their brains. When they write something incorrectly, they have no idea they have done so, because of learning disorders or because there has not been a steady infusion of excellent language. The over-reliance upon digital media has increased the prevalence of these issues among students.

A few years ago, I came across Andrew Pudewa’s cornerstone lecture, “Nurturing Competent Communicators.” He reveals the powerful effect of listening to and memorizing “reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns.” In fact, excellent speaking and writing just isn’t possible unless one has a large database of these language patterns stored in the brain. He validated what I already had experienced with my son.

The “Mother-Tongue Approach” to Language

In 9th grade my piano teacher gave me a simplified arrangement of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” I had never heard it or even heard of it. A poor music reader at that point, I had no idea what it was supposed to sound like. I thought it was “pretty,” but doubtless it sounded nothing like what it was meant to be! But I had no way of knowing that. I had nothing with which to compare my attempts.

Contrast my music experience with Suzuki music lessons. Suzuki students store “reliably correct and sophisticated music patterns” in their brains. They do so by listening repeatedly to professional recordings of the pieces they are learning. As they listen, they absorb the principles of making beautiful music. These include phrasing, dynamics, balance of hands, and a multitude of other factors.

Dr. Shinichi Suzuki based his method on a belief that all children could learn to play music just like all children could learn to speak their native language. He called this the “Mother-Tongue Approach.” He identified the following elements in learning to speak and intentionally applied the same principles in music lessons:

  • Listening
  • Motivation
  • Repetition
  • Step-by-Step Mastery
  • Memory
  • Vocabulary/repertoire
  • Parent Involvement
  • Loving Encouragement

Language-challenged students need these same principles applied intentionally in learning language. As the mother of a once language-challenged student, I can testify that these principles do work!

PREP-1: Preparing the Foundation

Building on the concepts of Pudewa’s cornerstone lecture, “Nurturing Competent Communicators,” PREP-1 students will spend the year:

  • Listening daily to high quality literature read aloud by a parent
  • Memorizing and reciting poetry from Andrew Pudewa’s Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization
  • Practicing basic IEW “key word outlines” from simple sources
  • Giving oral reports from their key word outlines.  

Parents who register their student to participate in PREP-1 will listen to Pudewa’s “Nurturing Competent Communicators” audio recording before registering; the download is free.* It provides the encouragement and understanding needed to tackle language learning from a different perspective than most language arts curricula. In fact, parents will likely find themselves ready to begin to apply the principles of memorizing and reading aloud immediately! That is how inspiring he is. 🙂

Parents of PREP-1 students will work with their student daily throughout the school year, reading aloud and memorizing poetry according to the schedule I will provide. Lists of read-alouds and a set of copyrighted poetry memorization materials from IEW will be provided for all students, as well as a custom PREP-1 handbook with all needed class materials.

There is no quick solution to language problems, but the Mother-Tongue Approach is a proven method that bears great fruit over time. Not only that, it is stress-free and it is a wonderful way to spend time together as a family!

If you are interested in discussing PREP-1 for your student, send me an email through the Contact tab! See the PREP-1 fees on the Classes tab for information about pricing.

* Here is the link to the recording: Nurturing Competent Communicators [Andrew Pudewa] | Institute for Excellence in Writing (

NOTE: If you do not have an IEW account already, you will need to create one. Then add the audio download to your cart, and follow the prompts to “purchase” it…it’s free so it won’t cost you anything.

Next, go to “Your Account” at the top of the page, then click on “Files” tab. You should see it listed there.

FYI: I bought 5 recordings recently and they did not appear in my “Files” tab. I had to live chat IEW and told them the files weren’t showing up and they had to fix it. Some kind of glitch on the website, I guess, but I have bought many of the recordings and that was the only time I have ever had a problem with them.

Please contact me through my Contact tab if you need help or have questions.

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