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Simplify Language Arts


Total Language Plus

Simplify Language Arts with Total Language Plus


Language arts encompass many subjects within it.  There is phonics, reading, reading comprehension, penmanship, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, composition, literature study, and public speaking.  Wow!  Doing all those components separately can consume a good portion of your school day and can cause frustration.  There is an easier way and that is Total Language Plus.  I discovered this curriculum at a homeschool convention.  As soon as my daughter and I looked through one study guide, we knew this was the language arts program for her.  We knew we could simplify language arts with Total Language Plus and would no longer need multiple programs. 


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Have you heard of Total Language Plus? 


Barbara Blakey began homeschooling in 1991.  Within a few months, she discovered using multiple language arts curriculum was not for her family.  She created her own lesson plans using novels as her primary source.  Soon other families wanted Barbara’s lesson plans and began encouraging her to make those lesson plans available to the homeschooling community.  God guided the Blakey family in starting a business and Total Language Plus (TLP) was born in 1993.

I appreciate the care Mrs. Blakey puts into selecting the high quality of books for her novel studies.  Many of the books are medal recipients.  In example, The Whipping Boy, The Giver, and The Bronze Bow earned Newberry Medals.  TLP has provided suggestions on which novels to study according to grades 3 through 12.  You certainly may modify your selection according to your child’s reading ability.  We selected books according to my daughter’s interest and reading ability such as The Hobbit, Anne of Green Gables, Treasure Island, and The Scarlet Pimpernel.


Total Language Plus - Anne of Green Gables


There are around 5 to 8 units per novel.  Depending on the novel, it may take 5 to 12 weeks to complete a study.  Consequently, it is best to purchase the novel rather than borrow it from the library.  You might question why it takes so long to complete a novel study.  It allows the student to absorb and comprehend what he or she reads.  This is more effective than quickly reading a book and doing a report on it afterwards.  My daughter finds it challenging to read a novel in increments.  Instead, she will read the entire book then review the chapters as she completes the assignments.


TLP Planning Grid


Each novel study includes a planning grid.  The student will read several chapters on day one; complete the vocabulary section on day two; do the spelling activities on day three; and complete grammar assignments on day four.  TLP is unique in that it contains enrichment activities to go along with the studies.  For example, a few of the suggested projects in Anne of Green Gables is to go on a horse and buggy ride, eat homemade ice cream, and learn the rules of etiquette.  You might want to reserve the enrichment activities for day five.


Students will increase their reading comprehension skills


The reading assignments consist of answering 2 to 5 questions per chapter.  These questions help the student to think about and understand what they are reading.  I really appreciate this part of TLP.  It is so easy to quickly read a paragraph and not conscientiously absorb the material read.

Students will use context clues to learn vocabulary.  They will also match words with definitions and create their own glossary.  Each unit contains a different type of vocabulary activity such as matching synonyms and antonyms, crossword puzzles, and etcetera.

Students will make flashcards and answer a few questions for spelling.  The questions may be about syllables, words ending with “e”, adjectives, and the like.  The spelling portion of TLP is similar to the vocabulary in that each unit has a different activity.  Those may include decoding, descrambling, consonant and vowel patterns, word search, locating missing vowels, and etcetera.

One of the grammar assignments includes listening and writing from dictation.  There are typically two Bible passages and one passage from the novel for the dictation portion.  In addition, there are two grammar activities.  Those include correcting errors in a sentence, write descriptive words, and write and proofread a paragraph.  TLP focuses more heavily on grammar mechanics in the 3rd and 4th grades and provides grammar reinforcements in 5th grade and up.  I found my daughter needed more grammar instruction and have replaced this portion of TLP with another curriculum for the time being.

I hope you can see you too may simplify language arts with Total Language Plus.  You may learn more about the novels TLP provides and take a look at sample pages on the website.


Angie McFarren, Homeschool Consultant


Special Offer for H.O.P.E. Home School Consulting Blog Readers


When you purchase a study guide from Total Language Plus, you will receive a free focus guide.  There is  a limit of 2 free focus guides.  

You must enter the word HOPE in the notes field when purchasing to receive the free focus guide.  

This offer ends on March 8, 2013


Disclaimer: I purchased the Total Language Plus curriculum and decided to conduct a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. 


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Angie McFarren

Angie McFarren is a homeschool mom of 1 high school student and graduated another who is now attending college. She has homeschooled them since they were in K and Pre-K. Angie is passionate about homeschooling and enjoys Helping Other Parents Educate. She is a Homeschool Consultant and the author of Educate the Home Educator Crash Course. Angie is also on the See the Light Art Curriculum team.


  1. Hi! I use TLP also. I was wondering what you used for the additional grammer instruction you mentioned above? Thanks you!

  2. Hi Mary,

    It was Analytical Grammar.


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