How Should I Determine Placement in Excellence in Literature?

Placement in Excellence in Literature is somewhat flexible. If you have five years, the simplest way to go through the curriculum is to start with the first study guide, Introduction to Literature, and go straight through the remaining four guides in order. If you have less time, you can decide based on the literature your student would prefer (or is required) to read, or coordinate the literature levels with the history you will be studying. Read on to learn more about making the right placement choice!

To begin Excellence in Literature, students should be reading at high-school level, and be close to grade-level or above skills in grammar, spelling, and language mechanics. I expect students to grammar- and spell-check all papers before turning them in, as learning to self-edit is part of the writing process (and something that is always required in college and in real life).

Do students need literary analysis experience?

It is possible to use EIL with no previous experience in literary analysis, and simply learn by doing, but many families prefer to work through the Teaching the Classics course by Adam Andrews of the Center for Lit. An alternate course is Windows to the World by Lesha Myers — a well-designed book-based course published by IEW.

Students should be willing to:

  • Independently follow the lesson plan
  • Ask questions when they need help
  • Read and act upon evaluations when they are returned

The last three things don’t always come naturally, but they can be learned with gentle, patient reminders.

Difficulty increases gradually

Fight ignorance with good books chosen through thoughtful placement in Excellence in Literature. One factor in choosing placement level is that the five levels of Excellence in Literature increase gradually in difficulty. This is measured both by the level of challenge in the reading assignments, and in the length and subject matter of the writing assignments. An eighth-grader may begin with English I or II, but so may a tenth-grader who has little or no previous writing experience. A student who is comfortable with writing, and is ready for a more challenging study, may wish to begin with English III, IV, or IV.

EIL flexes to fit your needs

Finally, you may choose placement based on literature you want to read or the history you are studying. We have many families who use programs such as Tapestry of Grace, Sonlight, or Omnibus, and use the EIL literature and writing assignments rather than those included in the history curriculum. By mixing and matching levels or modules as needed, you will find it easy to use EIL with any history curriculum.

If necessary, you can adapt the writing assignments in each module by shortening, lengthening, or allowing more time to complete them. For students on a college-prep track, I recommend keeping the assignments as they are. If you want additional rigor, just add the Honors option.

You can read a lot more about the Excellence in Literature curriculum in the articles linked below.

The detailed descriptions of each study guide will help you determine the right placement for your student.

Introduction to Literature (English 1) 
Literature and Composition (English 2)
American Literature (English 3)
British Literature (English 4)
World Literature (English 5)
The Complete Curriculum: Literature and Writing for Grades 8-12
Handbook for Writers