Color Coded English

Color Coded English

Color Coded English connects students on smartphones and tablets in fun classroom activities. Students play games and share and discuss pictures on WeChat. We call it Game Time and Show & Tell. The approach is visual and communicative. Students see their progress in acquiring a core vocabulary and mastering grammatical structures. Opportunities for real communication create confidence and fluency.

The Color Code reveals the grammatical structures of phrases and sentences. Color Coded charts provide references for correcting errors and practicing all of the grammatical structures used in English. Students learn the program's core vocabulary of words by using them in phrases and sentences. Students make phrases with words by playing Phrase Master and make sentences by playing Someone Said.

Students can study the words and play the games on any web-enabled device. Each Phrase Master game has 9 questions and five word choices for each question. There are 4,320 words in our core vocabulary. The words are grouped into 24 topics. Each topic is organized by parts of speech. Words are categorized into four levels according to their frequency. In each Phrase Master game, players see 45 word choices from one level and from three topics. Students must play 480 games to try to match all the words in the core vocabulary (480 x 9 = 4,320).

Prep Time happens whenever students click the "Prepare" button and log in. Students are grouped in classes, and the words they see are from the next game their class is set to play. The 45 words that will appear in their class' next game will be indicated by colored squares in the list. Clicking on a word will display three of the most common phrases in which the word is used by native speakers. Students can click on the phrases to hear and translate them. They can use three icons to select what they want to view. 1. a translation, 2. a text search or 3. an image search of a phrase.

Clicking the "Play" button lets players log into the game screen. Every player is assigned to one of two teams. The names of the players in the two teams are listed on either side of the game screen. When the teacher starts a game, the same three topics appear on everyone's game screen. The teacher chooses one player from each team and their names appear in the two score boxes. Team scores are based only on the results of the players who are assigned to a score box. The teacher can assign new players to the score box for each question. All individual scores are shown next to each player's name and updated after every question.

Phrase Master questions have a simple format based on tic-tac-toe and a multiple choice quiz. Each column in the nine-question grid contains three questions from the same topic. Teams take turns choosing one of the nine questions. The player who selects the question can claim its square by answering correctly, but an incorrect answer gives the other player the chance to claim the square

The color of an answered question's square indicates which team has claimed it. If neither team answers the question correctly, the square will remain empty. When one team claims three squares in a row, their score is doubled.

All players must match one of 5 words with the blanks in 3 phrases. For example, the blanks in the three phrases "fresh _____ / _____ juice / _____ fly" can be matched with one of the following words: "chips, fruit, apple, banana, vegetable". Note that the word "vegetable" matches the first two phrases but not the last one.

When a question is chosen, it is first displayed on the player's device and a timer starts. Within a couple of seconds the same question will appear on the devices of the teacher and the other players. Each player's device records the matches made and the time used after each question. Spending less than 10 seconds increases a player's score and more than 10 seconds decreases it. Players must choose a word within 20 seconds or their choice is counted as incorrect. After a player makes a choice, the full phrases are displayed with the correct word. A bell or a buzzer indicates to teammates if the correct word was chosen.

The meanings of the words are reinforced in a follow-up game called Someone Said. Each game includes nine sentences in which one of the answer words from the previous Phrase Master game is used but represented by a blank underline.

The teacher directs Someone Said by displaying one of the sentences on every player's device except for the devices of the two players in the score boxes. A player in the score box chooses one teammate to read the sentence out loud two times. The teacher will re-read the sentence if any pronunciation errors were made and then start a 20 second timer on everyone's device. The player must then repeat the sentence and replace "blank" with the correct word to score a personal bonus point and add ten points to his or her team's score from the previous Phrase Master game. An incorrect answer gives the other team an extra turn to score. When the game is over, all of the players on the winning team receive one bonus point.

Bonus points can greatly increase personal scores. The formula for players' scores is 100 times the Percentage of Matched Words, plus 10 minus the average # of seconds, plus bonus points divided by level. Players and Classes are ranked according to their individual and group scores.

The Someone Said game forces students to use their speaking and listening skills. Students learn words in both Phrase Master and Someone Said by combining them in useful grammatical structures. Color Coded English lets students direct their own learning. They can review the words they matched and missed in games. They can view words by level or by topic. Students can search for words using English or their first language.

If you can visualize a goal, you can achieve it. When you are competing amd cooperating, learning is more fun. The Phrase Master and Someone Said games are the perfect complements to any English course.

Copyright 2017 © by Ted O'Brien
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Phrase Master & Someone Said